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Picture of shufitz
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I saw two articles in the papers today. They are discussed here and here, but they raise a more general question.

The Internet dramatically changes how we can communicate. For example, a mere decade ago even the largest organization could create, as we have here, a continuing discussion of people from all over the globe. Today any average Joe can do it, just with computer access and energy.

In the past, major innovations in communication drastically changed society. Printing did so; the telegraph did so; so did the telephone; so did TV/radio. If one goes back further one could add as examples speech, and then writing.

I'd like to open up the general question of how the net has changed our world. But even more important than that retrospective, perhaps we can have "group think-piece" on how the net will change our world. What are the long-term implications of this new means of communicating? What techniques are not yet in place; what potentials have not yet realized? What are the obstacles and the backlashes?

This is obviously a massive question, and one that hasn't taken full shape. Help me out here!

This message has been edited. Last edited by: shufitz,
 
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Picture of Richard English
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To answer this question we need first to look at the lessons of the past to see what changes the invention you cite have wrought and decide whether they have actually created genuine and lasting societal and behavioural change. It's easy to assume that they have but the change needs to be properly analysed and quantified.

For example, it is commonly suggested that the invention of printing standardised spelling and improved literacy. But spelling is still not universally standard and illiteracy is still all too common.

TV and radio gave their audiences a common theme to discuss and had a unifying effect because of this.

I suggest that the Internet might actually be working to reverse all these effects, perverse though this might seem!

I look forward to the continuation of this fascinating topic.


Richard English
 
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Picture of jheem
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For example, it is commonly suggested that the invention of printing standardised spelling and improved literacy. But spelling is still not universally standard and illiteracy is still all too common.

Only if the language, like post-Middle English, had a mess of a system before. Most pre-print societies in Europe had standardized orthographies before printing was introduced. In fact, West Saxon was adopted by the other royal courts in pre-Conquest England by kings who did not speak because of the prestige of King Alfred. Classical Latin had a rather regular orthography, and it was only latter during the Middle Ages when the pronuciations began to mimic those of the nations in which they were spoken, that the spelling became erratic.

It's interesting how a fixed orthography ages, rather unwell, and leads to all kinds of problems, when the spoken language and the written start to diverge. It's then that literate folks get all high and mighty about spelling and such .. oh, forget it ...
 
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Picture of arnie
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The Internet seems to be a medium that fits somewhere between spoken and written communication. In another thread Jo mentions that she tends to be casual in what she says, but is much more careful in her writing. However, she is less careful when writing on the Internet.

This appears to be quite common. Whilst many if not most people will carefully review their writing for errors and infelicities, a lot will excercise less care when sending e-mails or posting to boards of this sort. This board is not a good example, being word-related anyway, as most posters are, I'd say, the sort of people who'd take more care in the first place, and would be wary of committing solecisms for fear of being pulled up on them. A look at the posts on some other non-word-related boards, however, will show what I mean. In the course of my job I often get e-mails from teachers, and some of them contain egregious errors that I am sure they would not allow in their pupils' written work.

Whilst not as "immediate" as verbal communication, the Internet is almost as fast; this speed seems to be reflected in the [lack of] care that many people give to their Internet writings.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Picture of jheem
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Very little of what's written on the internet is anything but ephemeral. If I were writing something of substance upon which a grade or a raise depended, I'm usually much more careful. I tend to reason and spell-check better for posting on a forum / board than when chatting in IM/IRC. I sometimes write more email in a day than I have written in the past in a month or a year. Speed ...
 
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Picture of Hic et ubique
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jheem and arnie, you seem to be familiar with the world of blogs. Perhaps you know of other blog writers who might want to contribute their experience to this discussion.
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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how the net will change our world.

I think, in the future, there will be more regulation of the Internet, as well as more lawsuits and the need for lawyers. For example, take CJ's OEDILF project. Would he really have a leg to stand on if someone copied the limericks and published them? I know that he says they are copyrighted, but does that work internationally, or just in the U.S.? There are a lot of international limericks posted as well. Therefore, the regulation, the legalities, will all have to be international. Perhaps there will be some world Internet committee that will make regulations, and lawyers who deal with Internet lawsuits will have to be knowledgeable in international laws. Some of this is happening today, but not to the extent I see in the future.
 
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Another area where the Internet will change our world, or already has, is with kids using it. I recently read an article that says that 31% of kids aged 3 are using computers, with 16% of them using them several times a week. Some child psychologists are saying that computers are taking children away from other developmental activities that are more appropriate for their brains (though they didn't cite which ones). In Jane Healy's book, "Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children's Minds," Healy says that mental ability is gained from manipulating the 3-dimensional world at that age and from managing your own mind and not having it managed by an electronic machine. She recommends kids staying off computers until age 7.

Yet, others disagree. There are lots of computer sites for kids as young as 2. One professor, in this article, bought his child an iMac before she turned 1!

There will be a lot more studies on kids using computers and the Internet.
 
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Kalleh, you're raising the same questions about the internet that have always been raised about television. How young is too young? How much is too much? I'm sure you all know, as I do, one or two families who VOWED they would never let their children watch tv. What did that produce? Kids who were lacking in cultural awareness, perhaps? Do you know kids who haven't been allowed to read Harry Potter when all their classmates are devouring them? It's similar.

The question for me is not whether or not kids should be exposed to the computer. I think kids should grow up knowing and understanding the basics of computer operation. The problem arises (IMHO) when caregivers start to replace themselves and their own interactive time with the mechanical tools. When the television becomes the primary source of a child's language experience . . . when the computer becomes a person's primary source of interaction with people AT ANY AGE . . . that is when it becomes more of a problem than a tool.

I had a friend in college who had spent so much time with the television as a teen that he had very little else to talk about. He was funny and interesting, to a point, but he really had very few interpersonal skills. That is one of the biggest dangers I see with the internet. When you are in conversations and think LOL instead of just laughing - that is when you should think about how you spend your time!

The internet and it's ability to create an international group such as this - that is a glorious thing. The ability to hop online and look up information is nearly miraculous, but that still must be tempered with discernment so that you're not swallowing everything you read as truth - you must still consider the source!

Yes, Kalleh - I'm sure there will be a lot more studies on kids using computers and the internet - if I ever decide to finally get my PhD I might even do one myself! But I will say again - THE MOST IMPORTANT thing in the life of a young child will always be the child's primary caregiver. Kids need to have plenty of time to hear the spoken language face to face.

<stepping down from the soapbox again>


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Caterwauller:
<stepping down from the soapbox again>

Well said. You can get on your soapbox anytime.

Tinman
 
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Picture of Caterwauller
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Join me on my soapbox, Tinman - there's plenty of room!


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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Oh, I get up there once in a while.

Tinman
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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quote:
Originally posted by Caterwauller:


I had a friend in college who had spent so much time with the television as a teen that he had very little else to talk about.


While I didn't read the book, I count among my favorite movies, "Being There," based on the novel of the same name, wherein the main character has aquired ALL his knowledge of the world from television. It made for some creepy/funny situations. How much will we alter our perceptions of reality because of the internet?

I have met Shufitz and Kalleh as a result of our being on a word discussion board, and I met my girlfriend through an on-line dating site, so my world has been enhanced through this medium. I'm 2,000 miles from Chicago or Muncie, so how would we have met if not through the internet? Yet would we have had the famous correspondences such as that of the Brownings had they had the net? Not likely!
 
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Picture of Caterwauller
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Yes, it certainly has changed the size of the world. What do you think, is this a bigger deal than the Jet???


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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quote:
Originally posted by Caterwauller:
Yes, it certainly has changed the size of the world. What do you think, is this a bigger deal than the Jet???


That's comparing apples and oranges. You can't directly interact via this medium, but rapid transport permits human contact. We use common terms for both, though. Human travel spreads viruses, just as does internet intercourse. This medium facilitates commerce without the need for physical proximity, much the same way that Montgomery Ward and Sears-Roebuck did a century ago. The technology's different, but the idea's the same. And we travel the internet superhighway instead of those roads built for the earlier form of commerce.
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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quote:
Originally posted by Asa Lovejoy:
quote:
Originally posted by Caterwauller:
Yes, it certainly has changed the size of the world. What do you think, is this a bigger deal than the Jet???


That's comparing apples and oranges. You can't directly interact via this medium, but rapid transport expedites human contact. We use common terms for both, though. Human travel spreads viruses, just as does internet intercourse. This medium facilitates commerce without the need for physical proximity, much the same way that Montgomery Ward and Sears-Roebuck did a century ago. The technology's different, but the idea's the same. And we travel the internet superhighway instead of those roads built for the earlier form of commerce.
 
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Picture of Caterwauller
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Oh yes, Asa, a very good point! Only thing . . . "internet intercourse" generally doesn't have nearly the potential to spread disease as does the real McCoy. Wink


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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You can't directly interact via this medium, but rapid transport permits human contact.

Oh, well, you can't really interact in person much either. You're always separated from the other interlocutor by air and skin and bone. On the net, you're just a little bit further off from the Other ...
 
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