, Research Paper
Convergence of Internet with Other Technologies
The Internet is a significant part of our everyday life. Ever since it was invented by the Department of Defense while the Cold Wars were still raging, during the 1970?s, it had been advancing dramatically in its importance in our society (The Dynamics of Mass Communication, by Joseph R. Dominick, p.326-327). The advantages of the Internet, which made it popular, are countless. It provides users easy and inexpensive access, allows users to communicate with one another simultaneously regardless of the distance, and contains updated retrievable information on almost everything, if not all, and its amazing transmission speed is also a plus. There are no physical limits to its growth. Unlike real estate or paper, computing power and computer storage is inexpensive. There are an infinite number of bits in the universe and an almost endless hunger for valuable information and knowledge. As more and more people continue to enjoy the Web and find it worthy of their attention, the Web will continue to grow at its frantic pace. Thus it has a tremendous impact on current technologies and can potentially transform institutions such as schools, business transactions, neighborhoods and cities, government, public services and religion.
Technology keeps improving as time goes on. New products are invented every day to enrich our live style. As the usage of the Internet increases, more new products are made Internet compatible to save Internet users time and hassle. Although cellular phones have already made it easy for people to communicate with one another, engineers had taken it an extra step further. They now come with such function that the users are able to send and receive e-mails with a few simple touches on the keypad of the cellular phone. Pacific Bell is one of the wireless carriers that provide such handy option. Should the sender want to get a message across to any e-mail account, he would only enter the destination e-mail address (username@domainname) followed by a space, type in the message, then select SEND and enter 121 to have the wireless system to route the message to the internet as an e-mail to the address provided. The message is then sent to the designated email address. Anyone with Internet access has the ability to send an e-mail to the cellular customer as well. He can simply type in the cellular customer?s username as the address and the message will show up across the screen of the cellular phone without interruption (Brochure, 1999 Pacific Bell Wireless, LLC). Pacific Bell is only one of the thousands of businesses that provide advanced technology as such. Another one is V-ONE. V-ONE provides paging services that are Internet compatible as well. The procedures are similar to that of a cellular phone listed above. To secure the clients? privacy, this carrier verifies that the sender?s and recipient?s Personal Identification Number, PIN for short, are valid, by checking the PIN against an authentication database. If the PIN does not belong to a registered user on the system, then the message is discarded; invalid PINs result in automatic message deletion (http://www.v-one.com/airsmartgate.htm). Electronic meetings are made possible by a new type of computer software program, groupware. Groupware is a term used to describe the multitude of software programs that have developed to facilitate group interaction and decision making. Other applications of groupware are videoconferencing group meetings, disseminating presentations, augmenting face-to-face customer visits and even conducting preliminary interviews of job candidates. In 1995, more than 40 percent of the largest companies in the United States used video-conferencing (Fundamentals of Management, by Stephen P. Robbins and David A. De Cenzo, p.177). Videoconferencing, bringing people together electronically, rather than physically, saves time and eliminates travel expenses. These are just a few of the latest technology made specifically along with the usage of the Internet.
With the growth of the Internet usage, many institutions have upgraded their systems to attract more customers or clients who are into the Internet. This is taking place everyday. Some preschools have digital video cameras set up inside classrooms. The pictures are then uploaded into the school?s home page. This allows parents to watch over their children on the Internet since everything taking place inside the classroom is captured by the video camera. Parents may observe their children?s behavior, and ensure the safety of the school as well. Colleges and universities are taking advantage of this new technology as well. Many of them are posting their college catalogues on the Internet to attract prospective students worldwide. Distance education, which is available at many universities and colleges, is becoming more widespread. Students are required to have access to the World Wide Web in order to sign up for these online courses. Classes of this type grant more freedom to their students since there is no set time for lectures. Students are able to access their learning material over the Internet at their will at anytime convenient to them. This is a great opportunity for many working students to better manage their time. If they have questions in regards to the lessons, they can simply e-mail the professor, and responses will be made then. Most college students, as well as many high school students, have electronic mail accounts, also known as e-mail accounts. E-mails have been common for a long period of time. Instead of sending letters through the Postal Service, people are writing e-mails because they are more convenient and less expensive. E-mails can be sent across overseas in a matter of seconds. It is one of the fastest means of communication available from our technology treasure chest today.
The Internet does not only meet the needs of information-seekers, but also businesses that may want to use this as a channel for selling products and services. This takes the Web to a whole new dimension that has been called electronic commerce. The World Wide Web has had a significant impact on electronic commerce, and in particular the online book selling industry. E-commerce is when two intangible entities, computer data and an electronic location for that data, are used together to conduct business on the WWW. It is when an electronic storefront is placed on the WWW to advertise and sell commercial products and/or services to other WWW users all around the world. Like any new business frontier where there is potential for profit, entrepreneurs of all kinds will flock to set up shop along the uncharted roads of the WWW in hopes of realizing the American dream. Unfortunately, like all business ventures, some businesses will succeed, while others will fail. But even failures will help establish a climate hungry for future business in this new land of opportunity. Today, doing business on the WWW has become as common as it is at our local shopping malls. Selling products and/or services on the WWW has many benefits that make it an attractive place for booksellers to conduct business. Online booksellers get to deal with consumers who want to hear their message. It is a very intimate selling situation where consumers have their hands on the keyboard and eyes are on the screen. Perhaps the biggest advantage for a bookseller to start an electronic storefront is that the WWW is also one of the least expensive ways to start a business. Merchants do not have to pay rent or spend money on fixing and painting a store in the real world. For example, Amazon.com currently records sales of $1.2 billion a year, which is equivalent to sales from 235 Barnes & Noble stores (www.barnesandnoble.com). However, amazon.com has invested only $56 million on fixed assets while Barnes & Noble has spent $472 million on its approximate 1000 outlets. The cost savings in terms of fixed capital shows why amazon.com?s $21.2 billion market capitalization tramples Barnes & Noble?s $1.8 billion market valuation. Because the display of books and other merchandise and the actual sales transactions take place online, Amazon.com can operate from any location (http://www.amazon.com). E-commerce has been developing at a rapid pace in the U.S. But globalization of e-commerce has been a slow process because many countries around the world are only beginning to gain access to the Internet.
Many non-profit organizations also started utilizing the Internet to expand their horizons. For example, Youth Crime Watch of America, YCWA, which is supported by Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush, has done so. They use their website to increase the number of supporters to enhance the safety of our neighborhood. Some of their programs, such as Youth Patrols, Drug and Crime prevention education, School bus safety projects, Communication and reporting systems, Mentoring programs, Action projects, Conflict resolution training, and Access to the National Conference, have become more successful after their website had been launch. Participants of this organization take ownership of their own Youth Crime Watch program for their school, neighborhood, public housing site, recreational center, or park (http://www.ycwa.org/main.htm). Many other crime watch and/or neighborhood watch organizations are also listed on the Internet for interest groups to access. Other community services update their websites with articles addressing local problems for residents further their knowledge about their community. These are just a few of the thousands of ways the Internet had transformed the cities and neighborhood.
The main purpose of the development of the Internet was for the Government to have a safe storage for important information. In case of a nuclear attack without the existence of the Internet, crucial information storage may be destroyed, leaving the Government in a dreadful situation. The Internet enables Government agencies to access their information from almost everywhere. If one of the links is damaged, others are still accessible (The Dynamics of Mass Communication, by Joseph R. Dominick, p.326-327). One of the Government Agencies that uses the Internet for faster services is the Department of Motor Vehicles. Applications may be acquired online, and will be sent to the address requested (http://www.dmv.ca.gov). Vehicle owners no longer have to wait reluctantly on the phone for an available operator in regards to a simple question. Appointments may also be set up through the Internet. Due to the growing number of Internet transactions, the government may cut back on its employees, thus saving taxpayers? money. The Internet has made the government?s job much more efficient.
Public services are not behind in utilizing the Internet?s incredible power. Valley Transportation Authority of Santa Clara County, has its website launched for many years. It contains helpful information for passengers. We may find out bus schedules, what bus to take to a destination, bus fares, city maps, trails for bicycles, and even links to other transportation agencies (http://www.vta.org). Public libraries have their websites online as well. People could gain access to Web access, telnet access, and dial-up instructions for accessing the catalog of book, audio and video collections, as well as local newspaper indexes and Community Information Files (http://www.oaklandlibrary.org/). People may check for business hours by a few simple clicks on the mouse. Instead of actually going to the library to find a book, we may now go to the library?s website to search for specific items. If an item is checked out at a certain library, you may find out what other location may have that item. This saves us time, energy and money.
The Internet has help many religious groups expand. One witchcraft-related cult in a small community was able to expand its population from a few hundred members to approximately 15,000 members. Another well-known group, the Ku Klux Klan, was able to do the same. The KKK used the Internet to justify their actions. On their homepage, the KKK stated that the Klan stands for the irreplaceable hub of the Nation, the Christian faith, and the high levels of Western culture and technology. The Klan also stated that it does not consider itself the enemy of non-Whites explaining that the only way all races can develop their full potential and culture is through racial separation. According to this homepage, the KKK is a fraternal, patriotic movement promoting the ideals of Western Christian Civilization and White Racial political self-determination (http://www.kkk.com/intro.htm). This religious group was able to combine the usage of propaganda and the Internet to attract many members.
New sites on the Internet have been cropping up at the rate of one per minute. As it expands at this amazing pace, it is clear that the Web?s colorful use of words, pictures, sound, and motion is quickly becoming more than just the most important new communication medium since television. The Web is like another universe that mirrors the physical world in some ways but shows unique properties in other ways. If you take a closer look at the Web, there are so many potential uses of this world of information and ideas. Individuals are using the Internet to access e-mail services such as Hotmail and Yahoo. Employers are posting job listings for people looking for work, and job seekers are posting their resumes to market their skills. National and global news services are posting wire stories almost as they occur, so that people do not have to wait for the news on television or in newspapers. Financial investors use the Internet to trade stocks and bonds, and to keep track of investment portfolios. Support groups in all areas, including alcoholic anonymous members, racing enthusiasts, feminists, and gay rights advocates, can use the internet to share information, guidance, and assistance to foster their shared objectives. As we can see, the Internet plays an important role on improving our technology and can transform institutions such as schools, business transactions, neighborhoods and cities, government, public services, religion and much more.
Joseph R. Dominick, The Dynamics of Mass Communication, McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., New York, New York, pp.326-327
Stephen P. Robbins and David A. De Cenzo, Fundamentals of Management, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 1998, pp. 177.
Brochure, PCS Email, Pacific Bell Wireless, LLC, 1999