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The Evolution of the Internet as a Global System

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The Internet has turned our existence upside down. It has revolutionized communications, to the extent that it is now our preferred medium of everyday communication

In almost everything we do, we use the Internet. Ordering a pizza, buying a television, sharing a moment with a friend, sending a picture over instant messaging. Before the Internet, if you wanted to keep up with the news, you had to walk down to the newsstand when it opened in the morning and buy a local edition reporting what had happened the previous day. But today a click or two is enough to read your local paper and any news source from anywhere in the world, updated up to the minute.

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In the four years since we began, both the Internet and the Journal have proven very successful. We have had the pleasure of blazing a trail for many, and often have been consulted, both in the United States and in Europe, on how best to begin an electronic journal in other fields. Our founding group of scholars is now the American Association for History and Computing, and was admited as an affiliate to the American Historical Association in faster time than any previous group in the AHA's long history

We have had the pleasure of publishing a number of noted scholars and often have seen their articles reprinted in paper journals. Our members are very busy with public presentations and workshops. Several who began as electronic neophytes are now heading up centers for studying or publishing electronic materials. We are in discussions with a major academic publisher for a hard-copy series on electronic materials in history, following upon several successful years of producing M.E. Sharpe's History Highway series. These are all, of course, gratifying achievements, made possible by a very hard working group of scholars, both national and international. But above all, we were simply at the right place at the right time, at the beginning of the transition from hard copy publishing to electronic publishing just as the field began to take off. Those first four years were a period of what now seems to be almost complete anarchy; there were few rules and almost no precedents, beyond trying to live up to the traditional concerns of our predecessor historians. It seems a strange question, but more than once we asked ourselves what Thucydides or Ssu-ma Ch'ien would have done with this new medium. We now find ourselves at the brink of a new era, at a period of consolidation as we begin to consider not only the advantages of the Internet, but also some of the disadvantages. Those of us we have played joyfully in the fields of anarchy now must ask ourselves where it is that we are going. Accordingly, this editorial attempts to consider the Internet and the place of the JAHC within a very broad historical perspective. Here we consider the linked topics of the Internet, globalism, global civic culture, scholarship, and terrorism.

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The Internet is the decisive technology of the Information Age, as the electrical engine was the vector of technological transformation of the Industrial Age. This global network of computer networks, largely based nowadays on platforms of wireless communication, provides ubiquitous capacity of multimodal, interactive communication in chosen time, transcending space. The Internet is not really a new technology: its ancestor, the Arpanet, was first deployed in 1969 (Abbate 1999). But it was in the 1990s when it was privatized and released from the control of the U.S. Department of Commerce that it diffused around the world at extraordinary speed: in 1996 the first survey of Internet users counted about 40 million; in 2013 they are over 2.5 billion, with China accounting for the largest number of Internet users. Furthermore, for some time the spread of the Internet was limited by the difficulty to lay out land-based telecommunications infrastructure in the emerging countries. This has changed with the explosion of wireless communication in the early twenty-first century. Indeed, in 1991, there were about 16 million subscribers of wireless devices in the world, in 2013 they are close to 7 billion (in a planet of 7.7 billion human beings). Counting on the family and village uses of mobile phones, and taking into consideration the limited use of these devices among children under five years of age, we can say that humankind is now almost entirely connected, albeit with great levels of inequality in the bandwidth as well as in the efficiency and price of the service.These movements take place in the context of exploitation and oppression, social tensions and social struggles; but struggles that were not able to successfully challenge the state in other instances of revolt are now powered by the tools of mass self-communication. It is not the technology that induces the movements, but without the technology (Internet and wireless communication) social movements would not take the present form of being a challenge to state power. The fact is that technology is material culture (ideas brought into the design) and the Internet materialized the culture of freedom that, as it has been documented, emerged on American campuses in the 1960s. This culture-made technology is at the source of the new wave of social movements that exemplify the depth of the global impact of the Internet in all spheres of social organization, affecting particularly power relationships, the foundation of the institutions of society

(See case studies and an analytical perspective on the interaction between Internet and networked social movements in Castells 2012.)

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Overall, Facebook and other networking sites are popular between students to share knowledge. They may also use some messaging services of the internet, for example yahoo messenger, window live messenger, mail which allows chatting between students. In short we can say that internet is a blessing when used wisely and appropreriately. After all these things we can say that the internet and technology totally effected to the higher education. Now everything is possible to do with the help of internet. Technology makes the education much easier so the higher education becomes so easy and intrusting.

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Abbate, Janet. A Social History of the Internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999.

Boyd, Danah M., and Nicole B. Ellison. “Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13, no. 1 (2007).

Cardoso, Gustavo, Angus Cheong, and Jeffrey Cole (eds). World Wide Internet: Changing Societies, Economies and Cultures. Macau: University of Macau Press, 2009.

Castells, Manuel. The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture. 3 vols. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996–2003.

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