Marshall Stephen David *
Dr. H.K. Mariswamy**
The advent of new information and communication technologies has translated the global village concept of Marshall McLuhan into a reality. New media have created ‘information society’ and brought about the globalization of information resources and services. With the exponential growth in the emergent media technology including the Internet, the print, broadcast, telecommunications, and computer communication have formed the new domains in order to create the converged media world in general and global consumption of goods and services in particular. The new media are technology oriented channels of communication which facilitate ‘user-to-user’ interactivity in contemporary society. The emergence of Internet replaced the ‘one-to-many’ model of traditional mass communication with the possibility of the ‘many-to-many’ web of communication. Internet is also one of the more important tools of interactive communication in modern society. Interactivity has become a key term for number of new media use options evolving from the rapid dissemination of Internet access point, the digitalization of the media and media convergence. Internet has also become an important medium of communication in modern society.
Concept of Internet
The Internet is a massive network of communication networks which has changed the way citizens around the world live, learn, work, earn and communicate. The Internet is also known as the ‘NET’ which is a network of networks of computer databases and information services. Internet is also known as the world without bars-neither of time, space nor language. Its worldwide reach and connection to any type of computer have broken the boundaries of communication.
An online popular encyclopedia from the Internet, Wikipedia explains what Internet means and what it is: “The Internet is a worldwide, publicly accessible series of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using the standard Internet Protocol (IP). It is a “network of networks” that consists of millions of smaller domestic, academic, business, and government networks, which together carry various information and services, such as electronic mail, online chat, file transfer, and the interlinked web pages and other resources of the World Wide Web (WWW)”.
According to DiMaggio, Hargittain, Neuman, and Robinson (2001:03), the Internet is defined as the ‘electronic network of networks that links people and information through computers and other digital devices allowing person-to-person communication and information retrieval.’ The advent of the computer and the Internet has brought a whole new world in terms of gathering, disseminating, creating, and criticizing information and communicating with people. The multimedia available over the Internet is surprisingly varied. The Internet is the latest revolution in communication technology.
Evolution of Internet
Access of Internet is on the rise. Internet brings a large quantity of comprehensive information to public domain. Internet has become the in-thing of education. Academic life involves using computers with Internet. Students use Internet to gain more comprehensive information. It is the vital link for quick reference for scholars as well as for all. Internet’s use could be optimized to get the best for students. Internet basically utilizes the convergence of computers and communication technologies. Both these technologies are making strides since 1970’s in an unprecedented way.
The World Wide Web being part of Internet was a project conceived in 1989 at the CERN high-energy laboratory in Europe. In 1991 the Internet was released to public. The formal birth of Internet was registered, when Internet society was chartered on 1992. The goal was to allow scientists and employees around the world to conveniently share research and ideas. Of course the World Wide Web has evolved into something much more than a research tool. With the introduction of graphical web browsers, it has become a communication medium for much wider, global audience. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most important developments in the history of the human communication, as important as the invention of Gutenberg’s Printing Press.
The Internet became popular in the early 1990’s. The United States is the motherland of Internet revolution. The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) played a major role in the creation of Information Processing Technology Office (IPTO) which had networked country-wide radar systems together for the first time. Leonard Kleinrock, Licklider and other scientists conducted monumental research in Internet revolution.
The CERN, a pan European organization for particle research publicized the World Wide Web project in 1991. It was invented by English scientist Tim Bernes Lee in 1989. It was eventually replaced in popularity by the Mosaic web browser. In about one decade, the Internet successfully accommodated the majority of previously existing public computer networks. During the 1990’s, Internet grew by 100 percent. The information and computer scientists described the Internet as a ‘prime example of a large-scale, highly engineered, yet highly complex system, according to Wikipedia (2011:06).
India has emerged as an information super power in the world. It continues to be one of the fastest growing major telecom markets in the world. The Government of India have brought about sweeping reforms over the last two decades. The state-owned Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) launched Internet services in India in 1995. In November 1998, the Government ended VSNL’s monopoly and privatized the Internet services in India. There are about 200 operational ISPs in the country according to the latest statistics. According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India, the low cost of broadband has helped increase Internet usage in the country.
Despite the large number of providers, 10% of the ISPs have 90% of the subscribers. The state owned BSNL and MTNL have grown rapidly to hold first and second place in terms of subscribers. The remarkable expansion of cyber cafes has played a crucial role in fueling Internet revolution in India. There are about 60% of users who regularly access the Internet via the country’s more than 10,000 cyber cafes. The number of broadband subscribers is also remarkably increasing in the country according to Broadband Market Services (2011:01).
Internet as a Medium of Communication
As of now, many people log on the web and search for information instead of going to the newspaper or television to get information. As the number of people who use the Internet is growing, most people now accept that Internet as a revolutionary new medium that has changed the life styles remarkably.
The Internet has several distinctive features. First, the Internet is an active and interactive medium. In other words, the Internet is a two way medium. The person who uses the Internet is called as the ‘user’, not a viewer or listener. ‘User’ suggests activeness and controllability. Internet users can create information by themselves or actively search and reach the information on the web. Further, people evaluate the given information and set forth their view so that other people can see them.
Interaction with other users is another feature of interactivity of the Internet. Opinions and views flow freely on the web. Even though television viewers can watch television actively by means of choosing a channel, television watching is still a passive activity when compared to Internet use.
Internet has proved to be one of the most innovative inventions for us. It has made its presence felt in every sphere of our life, be it economy, society, health care, spirituality, etc. Prominent among its benefits is the impact it has had on the education sector. Students can now gain access to innumerable research papers, apart from getting latest updates in the field of science and technology.
Internet has created new challenges for the society and most threatening among these is the impact it has had on the young generation of users including the children, adolescents and youth. Internet addiction has been recognized as a disorder in many countries, and rehabilitation centers have been created to help people to get over it. According to the empirical evidence, a large proportion of Internet addicts are youngsters, who are extremely vulnerable to its ill-effects. There are several advantages and disadvantages of Internet.
In reality, the Internet exists within a natural world where everything is transparent. Scholars have considered Internet as a sprawling global city that never sleeps. The Internet allows greater flexibility in working hours and location, especially with the spread of unmetered high-speed connections and web applications. The Internet can now be accessed almost anywhere by numerous means, especially through mobile Internet devices.
The Internet is the fastest way to spread information to a vast number of people simultaneously across the globe. The low cost and nearly instantaneous sharing of ideas, knowledge and skills has made collaborative work dramatically easier, with the help of collaborative software. Mobile phones, data cards, handheld game consoles and cellular routers allow users to connect to the Internet from anywhere.
The Internet allows the computer users to remotely access other computers and information sources easily, wherever they may be across the world. There are innovative ways and means of Internet browsing. E-mail is an important communications service available on the Internet. The Internet e-mail can be sent or received irrespective of the space and time by the modern Internet users even with little knowledge of computers.
The Internet telephoning is another common communication service made possible by the creation of the Internet. The Voice-over- Internet Protocol is mostly free of cost or cheaper especially over long distances. File sharing is an example of transferring large amounts of data across the Internet. A computer file can be uploaded to the website and downloaded by the users.
The webcams are viewed as even lower-budget extension of video phenomenon. Video chat rooms and video conferencing are also popular with many users.
“There are no official censors, no bosses, no board of directors, no stock holders or stake holders and other constraints in Internet browsing,” according to Leon and Leon (2000:05).
Importance of Internet
The rise of new media including the Internet has increased the communication between people all over the world. The Internet has enabled the people to express themselves through blogs, websites, pictures and other user-generated media. The evolution of Internet has brought about the globalization of education, business, management, development and other processes. The Internet culture has explored unknown paths and has led to overall development of the mankind. The Internet technology has also enhanced the information access and utility to various sections of the society.
As Kubey (2000:04) argued, the Internet as new media technology may enhance and help our lives or do harmful things to people. The Internet now is becoming an important research topic in various fields, including communication, sociology, psychology, public health, political science, education, computer science and so on. Studies about the Internet started from investigating who had Internet access. Researchers then moved to investigate actual Internet use, including how much time people spend on the Internet and what they are doing.
The Internet is a global, liberally available series of interconnected information sources with the aid of computer networks that transmit data in the form of video, audio, images, text, computer program files, or in other formats. It is amusing to use Internet for trade, education, communication, advertising and entertainment. Services like electronic mail, online chat, forums, blogs, transfer of content (data or programs), and the interlinked web pages between millions of smaller domestic, professional, academic, religious, entertainment, business, medical, political and government servers benefits the user.
Internet opens opportunities for users by bringing down the barriers of distance, time and cost. It is one medium where one can stay anonymous, or be faceless, voiceless, and still communicate with text or graphic representation. One can have control over how much or how little one would reveal about themselves as communicators through the Internet.
Many scholars in various fields, such as education, psychology and sociology, have studied the impact of the Internet on people and society and reported the advantages and disadvantages of using the Internet. The children, adolescents, women and other sections of the society are affected by the Internet both positively and negatively in modern society. According to the latest Internet survey, about 900 million people worldwide were online. The studies have also revealed that all most all educational institutions in the world have Internet access regardless of level, region, or poverty concentration. As Internet use among the users is dramatically rising, the scholars need to know what impact the Internet has on the community of users as a medium of communication in modern society.
- Broadband Market Services (2011) India-Broadband Market, Internet Services and Forecasts, www.budde.com.au
- David, Marshall Stephen (2013) Access and utilization of information services through Internet among high school students; unpublished thesis, Bangalore University, India.
- DiMaggio, Paul., Eszter Hargittai, W. Russel Neuman and John P. Robinson (2001) Social Implications of the Internet, Annual Review of Sociology, 27(1): 307-336.
- Kubey, R. (2000). TV and the Internet: Pitfalls in forecasting the future. Knowledge, Technology, & Policy, 13, 63-85.
- Leon, Alexis and Mathews Leon (2000) Fundamentals of Information Technology, New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd.