Sunday, April 8, 2012

That Web Thing

When did you first use the internet, either for email or to browse web sites? Do you remember what web sites looked like then compared to now?

My first time for email was 1991 and I first surfed a year or two later. I didn’t have my own internet service till around 1994 or 95, dial up AOL; my web exposure was at one of my jobs at the time. Web sites were text heavy, with few pictures, only a few colors and little or no audio or video.

According to an article in Fortune magazine recently, there are 400 million devices connected to the internet today. It is predicted that there will be 50 billion (billion with a B) on the internet by 2020, including those in cars and appliances, and many will be talking to each other. “Terminator” isn’t looking that farfetched anymore, is it?

Bigger questions: How often are you online? How much do you depend on the internet? Do you shop or bank on it? Do you watch TV shows on sites like hulu, fancast or CBS.com? Is the internet in your pocket or purse and not just on a desk or a laptop?

Does any of this scare you? Technology can certainly be a great thing, but like anything it can be dangerous. In “Terminator,” artificial intelligence takes over the world and attempts to replace humans. I think of that every time I get lost in automated answering systems. Or when I type a word on facebook and five ads related to that word pop up on my screen.

I accept technological advances and their nearly irreplaceable role in our lives, but if I have a choice between email, chat or in-person, I’ll take in-person. For me, touching a hand is much more of a connection than touching a keyboard.

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