Internet Wins, And The Need To Appreciate What We've Got Before It's Gone

from the golden-goose-preservation dept

It's become quite fashionable these days to gripe about the Internet. Even some of its staunchest allies in Congress have been getting cranky. Naturally there are going to be growing pains as humanity adapts to the unprecedented ability for billions of people to communicate with each other easily, cheaply, and immediately for the first time in world history. But this communications revolution has also brought some extraordinary benefits that we glibly risk when we forget about them and instead only focus the challenges. This glass is way more than half full but, if we're not careful to protect it, soon it will be empty.

As we've been talking about a lot recently, working its way through Congress is a bill, SESTA/FOSTA, so fixated on perceived problems with the Internet (even though there's no evidence that these are problems the Internet itself caused) that it threatens the ability of the Internet to deliver its benefits, including those that would better provide tools to deal with some of those perceived problems, if not outright make those same problems worse by taking away the Internet's ability to help. But it won't be the last such bill, as long as the regulatory pile-on intending to disable the Internet is allowed to proceed unchecked.

As the saying too often goes, you don't know what you've got till it's gone. But this time let's not wait to lose it; let's take the opportunity to appreciate all the good the Internet has given us, so we can hold on tight to it and resist efforts to take it away.

Towards that end, we want to encourage the sharing and collection of examples of how the Internet has made the world better: how it made it better for everyone, and how it even just made it better for you, and whether it made things better for good, or for even just one moment in one day when the Internet enabled some connection, discovery, or opportunity that could not have happened without it. It is unlikely that this list could be exhaustive: the Internet delivers its benefits too frequently and often too seamlessly to easily recognize them all. But that's why it's all the more important to go through the exercise of reflecting on as many as we can, because once they become less frequent and less seamless they will be much easier to miss and much harder to get back.

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Filed Under: innovation, internet, internet wins

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2018 @ 2:25pm

    Re: *NOT* better for everyone

    Your statement isn't wrong but it also isn't correct either. Let me explain.

    Has the internet caused or been involved in all those things you described? Yes. Not in every case but in some of them, yes. However, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Now hold on before you go getting all upset so I can explain.

    The reason why it's not necessarily a bad thing is because in addition to making some jobs/industries irrelevant and obsolete, it has also created new ones, as you acknowledge. And the reason why those jobs/industries are obsolete is because the internet offered a way to do those same tasks better, more efficiently.

    The printing press put a lot of monks and people who copied manuscripts by hand out of work. Was it bad? No, it revolutionized a way in which we communicate and share knowledge and ideas. The monks may have lost a job market but would you rather they have jobs and we were still relying on people to copy books by hand resulting in less ability to learn and share knowledge? Or higher book prices? It also ushered in thousands if not millions of new job opportunities for writers, journalists, newspapers, magazines, and more.

    It's the same with the internet, yes it is sad, in some respects, that it has put people and businesses out of work, but the internet has revolutionized not just communication but our entire lives for the better on orders of magnitude.

    And some of it isn't even directly. Some of the benefits are indirect. Science, medical, technology, and other research has exploded because now they can share information in minutes or seconds instead of weeks, months, or years. This has resulted in better quality of life for everyone because we've advanced our understanding of each of these disciplines faster. Medical especially.

    And it doesn't just stop at advancing knowledge, new job opportunities have exploded almost as fast. And even if you aren't part of the big tech companies, the barrier to entry to start your own business is far lower now. You can now start your own business for a fraction of the cost it used to be. You can sell your goods direct on any number of online market places. Artists have exploded on to the internet and used it to create new forms of art via video/audio works and web pages.

    The internet literally offers almost limitless possibilities for people.

    Were there winners and losers in the internet revolution? I suppose you could choose to look at it that way, but then you could say that about any technical, social, or economic innovation/revolution in history. What about the industrial revolution? That probably put a lot of blacksmiths out of work. Do you want to go back to that? Is it wrong that we found better, faster ways of doing things?

    There are only losers if people choose to not adapt to progress and technical innovation. Those people who lost jobs and are now facing a new occupation? If they choose to not adapt, yes, they will make far less money than they were. But if they do adapt, and use that to their advantage, they have just as much opportunity as all the rest of the people in the market.

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