Life Without the Internet Term Paper 5 pages

Life Without the Internet

The Impact of Information Technology and the Internet on Human Life

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The advent of Information Technology and the Internet has brought about a dramatic transformation in the way we live, work and play. So much so, that it is now virtually impossible to conceive of life without the convenience and benefits of computer technology. In fact, it probably would not be an exaggeration to state that the wired world that we live in would, in all likelihood, stumble into chaos and crisis in the event of a system wide Information Technology black out or collapse. for, there is hardly an aspect of life that computer technology has not touched in some manner.

To begin with, consider the effect of Information Technology on communication. Even a decade or so ago, communication via the written word meant waiting for days or even weeks for a response to a letter. With the introduction of electronic mail or email, however, written communication has become virtually instantaneous, as long as the recipient is online and in a position to respond immediately. It is hardly surprising then that the once eagerly awaited post has now been redesignated as “snail mail.”

Information Technology has also brought about other significant changes in the communication landscape such as voice, data, and Internet enabled mobile phones and handheld devices. In fact, the world today is so thoroughly connected that it is hard to imagine a time or place where one could not get in touch with family or friends, should one need to.

Information Technology has also made it possible to literally control one’s life with the click of a mouse button. for, that one simple action is all it takes to pay a bill; conduct a banking or finance transaction; purchase a product; book a movie or theatre ticket; order a pizza, file a tax return; track a shipment; or even access a book from an online library. What’s more, it is now believed that the day is not far off when it will be possible to do most of these things through the press of a cell phone key.

Already, the handy cell phone has become a multitasking device that enables its user to talk, send data messages, browse the Internet, click photographs, listen to music, play games, and pay for purchases. And now, there is talk about turning the device into a kind of remote control for an average citizen’s entire life, thereby making it an even more useful instrument than the personal computer.

In fact, the cell phone is already being used as an electronic wallet in countries such as Korea and Japan. In other words, cell phones in Japan and Korea come equipped with a special chip that allows the phone to be used as a debit or credit card and even as an identification card. In Korea, for example, students of Sookmyung Women’s University use their phones as identification cards: “The phone’s ‘hot key’ can open doors and parking lot gates on campus, register for courses, borrow books at the library or post notices on the campus Web site.” (Joshi, 2003, para 18-19)

Thus, it is evident that Information Technology has made life extremely easy and convenient. Indeed, gone are the days when one had to leave the house and physically travel some distance in order to attend to chores such as paying bills. These days, people don’t even have to leave home for work or college since the introduction of Information Technology has allowed the creation of the virtual office or virtual university!

Since Information Technology and the Internet is all about the dissemination and exchange of information, it is not surprising that the technology has given rise to what is popularly termed as the “Information Age” and the “Knowledge economy.” As the terms indicate, this is because the Internet has enabled average citizens to access reams of information on virtually any subject, thereby providing the opportunity for significant learning. In fact, the introduction of multimedia content on the Internet has only increased its value as a learning tool through deployment of the age old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

In addition, computer simulation of real life situations and processes has provided a vehicle for “interactive practice” and hands-on learning experiences (Lunce, 2004). And that’s not all! Computer technology and the Internet have significantly increased opportunities for learning through access to chat forums, bulletin boards, and online communities. Indeed, the role that the Internet has so far played in advancing people’s knowledge is evident in the many stories that are constantly related about, for instance, people finding remedies for chronic illnesses.

Of course, it is often said, “too much information can be a bad thing.” The Internet can, unfortunately, lend credence to that view since free and unrestricted access has resulted in many quacks and charlatans airing their personal opinions and unsubstantiated views. This means judicious care needs to be taken while accessing information through the Internet. In fact, although most western countries believe in granting their citizens freedom of expression, the explosion of information on the Internet has given rise to concern. So much so, that the Federal Trade Commission has warned people to be wary about false and deceptive health claims for products advertised and sold over the Internet (CNN, 1999).

Besides the risk of accessing less-than-credible data, there are other dangers lurking on the Internet, resulting in a whole new social problem, namely, Internet related crime. These crimes can range from identity theft and fraud to child pornography and copyright abuse. Because such crimes are committed or facilitated online, they are also referred to as cybercrime, e-crime or hi-tech crime (Home Office, 2004). Thus, if the Internet has proved to be a boon to human progress, it has also brought some social evils in its wake.

One such evil is the malicious spread of viruses and theft of source codes with the intent of bringing down whole systems or stealing sensitive information. While it is true that the government and most businesses invest a lot of money and effort into protecting their networks and systems, the fact remains that such efforts are not fool proof. Indeed, this is the reason why governments all over the world are facing the headache of dealing with cyber terrorism (Jackson, 2004).

The prevalence of cyber terrorism in a world that has gone almost totally online implies vulnerability. If a hard disk crash of a Home PC can cause panic and frustration over lost data, just imagine the implications of whole networks crashing! Interestingly, such thoughts may not be too off the mark since several best selling authors of fiction have already explored such a theme.

If the possibility of a system wide Information Technology collapse is not beyond the realm of conception, the question that arises is whether we have, as a society, grown far too dependent on technology? Today, technology has substituted the need for developing many skills. Take, for example, intelligent cars and appliances that tell their owners exactly what to do or, indeed, simply do the needful. While such technological progress is a marvelous tribute to human intelligence, the fact remains that such progress is also contributing to a decline in human self-sufficiency in a manner of speaking.

Viewed from such a perspective, one inference that can be drawn is that we need to be prepared for emergencies that could be created by technological failure. for, as David Newman points out, while the information technology revolution has been a boon to all aspects of society, some control systems for physical infrastructure elements such as energy, water or sewage are connected and accessible through the Internet and therefore can be tampered with remotely. So, we must have safeguards in place (Newman, 2001). Of course, the safeguards Newman refers to are probably back-up systems that will keep essential services up and running. On an individual level, however, such safeguards can be interpreted as learning how to survive in a non-technological world. In other words, it is important that we ensure that a technologically run world does not end up creating a complacent and physiologically inept human society.

Human ingenuity has resulted in computer technology and the Internet creating untold opportunities for improving the quality of life. The same human ingenuity must also now ensure that the use of Information Technology and the Internet is responsibly done and placed in the right perspective.

References (1999, June 24). Internet Alert: FTC warns against false health claims.

Retrieved Dec.1, 2004:

Home Office. (2004). Crime & Policing: Internet Crime. Retrieved Dec. 1, 2004:

Jackson, W. (2004, February 4). Senator calls for mandatory reporting of viruses.

TeCrime International, Inc. Retrieved Dec. 1, 2004:

Joshi, V. (2003, Oct. 12). Cell phones now debit cards in S. Korea. Retrieved Dec.1, 2004:

Lunce, L.M. (2004, October). Computer Simulations in Distance Learning.

International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning. Retrieved Dec. 1, 2004:

Newman, D. (2001, July-September). Climate and technology: The changing faces of emergencies. Emergency Preparedness Digest. Retrieved Dec. 1, 2004:

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