The Internet is a more significant development than any other in the history of man. It allows instant communication between any two people anywhere in the world at zero cost. It gives everyone on the planet access to all human knowledge everywhere.

Young people might ask how people managed before the Internet. We did is all I can say because it was all we knew

  • Knowledge

Pre-Internet - Knowledge has always accumulated throughout human history. People have written down their ideas and discoveries in stone, on papyrus scrolls and on paper. These were stored in libraries and other safe repositories and selected scholars were allowed to access them. Knowledge was very much the preserve of the elite and highly educated.

Internet - Everything is available to everyone who has an uncensored Internet connection.  This has massive implications for our future progress. No longer must an individual conform to society’s norms and gain a conventional education before he or she is allowed to access the knowledge of previous generations. We will see a lot more innovation as creative, but non-conforming people inter-connect different aspects of our knowledge.

  • Research

Pre-Internet - Research needed books and artefacts to learn anything. Scholars needed to visit libraries where rare books could be accessed under strict climatic conditions. Ordinary people’s research was limited by the books that they had access to. Some families bought expensive encyclopaedias so their children would have access to more knowledge.

Internet - Books are no longer needed. The only cost is an Internet subscription and perhaps subscriptions to highly specialised library sites. Encyclopaedias are dead, out of date before they even go to press. Even a three-foot shelf of books can only hold a very small part of the knowledge that is available online. Now knowledge is not limited to those who can lay out £1,000 for a set of encyclopaedias. Every child with an Internet connection now has access to everything that has ever been published, as well as to ideas that were only put forward a few hours ago.

No longer do scholars need to visit Egypt or Greece to examine historical objects; nowadays even artefacts can be scanned and sent via the Internet and a 3D printer to scholars thousands of miles away.

  • Communications

Pre-Internet - People could phone each other and write letters; they could meet and talk and that was it. We thought that being able to talk to someone on the other side of the World was pretty cool, even though doing so came at a pretty hefty price.

We listened to music on records, CDs and tapes, physical media that we needed the appropriate machine to play them on. Cameras and video cameras needed film and cassettes in order to store our images and we had projectors and screens to display them

Internet - We have email, instant chat applications and even free phone calls via VOIP. We have free video conferencing via Google Hangouts. We still have the old-fashioned ideas of talking and visiting people of course, but they take longer to organise and are more expensive.

Music and video have both moved into digital formats that can be transmitted via the Internet and stored for free online so that anyone with a broadband connection can access them, all they need is a computer and screen or even a smart phone.

The Internet Today

Every person who has access to a computer and a phone line can access every piece of knowledge that has ever been discovered, every thought that has eve ben recorded. That is a phenomenal idea to get your head around. Of course a dial up connection would only allow you access at a snail’s pace and you really need a broadband speed checker to find what broadband deals are available to you.