Monday, November 2, 2009

Social Impact of Internet and Computer Technology

I have done research on the social impact of internet and computer technology. I found that many people have not tackled this topic as a whole. Most people have looked at small pieces of technology, and how their innovation has impacted specific human behaviors, however they fail to address the bigger picture.

Socially, internet and computer technology is what the viewer or user makes of it. As with any tool this technology can have positive and negative affects on a person's life. It can be used to help someone get close to people just as much as it can be used to help push themselves away from human interaction. In life, it is one choice among many. I hope to show people that they are making that choice, in hopes that they will review it, and make the choice that brings them closer to their goals.

If you understand the preceding paragraph, the rest of my article is my explanation. If you are still reading, you are probably curious as to how I substantiate my claims above.

My website and my previous posts will undoubtedly show that I am a technophile, commonly referred to as a geek. I use computers on a daily basis. There are many people who would say that computers are causing people to be anti-social and forgo interaction with the "outside world." They would be right about that fact. We live in an age where it is very easy to not leave the comfort and security of ones own home. For the serious recluse groceries can be ordered online and delivered to their kitchen or door step. Most bills can be paid online, and many people can work from home online. For a reclusive person, it is now easier than ever to comfortably avoid society, however I would like to stress that its a choice.

The people who say the internet and computer technology isolates people from the rest of the society are not taking into account the fact that people have and make a personal choice. Just as some people use the internet to avoid society, internet can also be used to interact with society. I would be willing to bet that it has caused more social interaction, rather than less. For every person who chooses not to leave their house, there are probably a hundred who have reached out, posting a video on YouTube or joining a social network. Innovations, on the internet and with computers, are used to further communication and increase social connections.

I am an excellent example of my point. Growing up, all I knew was a small, art based beach town in California. I knew a small group of people and had only a few friends. It was not until I got on the internet that I really started to meet people from all over the world. I now have friends in Australia, the UK, Canada, Brazil, and many other places. I may never be able to meet my friends face to face, but because of the internet, I now share stories, pictures, and fun with them.

I am an avid gamer and I have played with people all over the world. I have even used the internet to find a group locally that I could LAN party with. I have also used the internet to share my experiences & opinions with my readers. As I have said before, the internet and computer technology has a different value for every single user.

I have always liked the bell curve. It allows me to stay positive. The link between a bell curve and a positive outlook may not be immediately clear. I look at everything as a bell curve following a simplified version of the Central Limit Theorem called the Three-sigma rule (also called empirical rule). This rule simply states that in normal distribution, nearly all values lie within three standard deviations of the mean (average). I am using Positive people Negative people, and Neutral as my deviations to illustrate the type of people in the world using the internet.

I believe that .2% of the people in the world will use the internet for something absolutely, abhorrently negative, or to isolate themselves. Another 4.2% are also not really up to any good, so in all that makes 4.4% that are probably negative. I do not see is as a truly terrible thing, because a bitter taste will foster a greater appreciation of the sweet. 27.2% of people are out there doing the absolute opposite. These people are being super-positive, writing blogs, searching for "the truth," doing research, founding organizations, helping others. So this, leaves 68.2% of people just being normal. Between the amazingly positive and the normal, 95.4% of people use the internet as a tool to connect to others, make new friendships, buy and sell goods, and generally help the world function. This means that 95.4% or more of the people are not doing something negative. If you have been doing the math you will notice that .2% is missing. This is because there are .2% of people that are fringe users who's activities cannot be generalized or easily identified.

Basically I believe that out of every hundred people on the internet, ninety five people and 1 child, are not doing something negative. That leaves four people and one midget are doing something negative. Of course someone somewhere is still making up their mind what they are going to do. Overall thats a pretty good use of the technology.

The social nature of the internet and computer technologies stand them apart from other technology. This technology arose from the need to share information in a bidirectional manner. Where TV and radio, to a large extent, are used almost entirely to push information out, the internet is a give and take of information. The internet allows the easy cross reference and validation of most information.

It has been proven that humans are naturally social creatures, and statistics show this. It took radio thirty-eight years to reach fifty million listeners. It took television thirteen years, and cable only took ten. It only took the internet five years to reach fifty million users.

It is said that the active users on Facebook doubles every six months. Networking sites, dating sites, Chat Rooms, and YouTube have made it increasingly easy to socialize and meet many new people, people that we might never have had the chance to meet. However this does come with drawbacks. For instance, the more such technology proliferates, the less pivacy people seem to have. Colleges and employers are beginning to look up future students and employees on the internet to help determine their moral character. Think of that next time you post a drunken frat party photo, or an off color joke. Remember you are the sum total of your actions. The more of these actions that end up online, the world gets a better picture of just who you are.

So how do you use the internet?

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