October 03, 2008

How can the world survive without the Internet?

I have two computers, one of which is not attached to the internet. The problem with this set-up is that the system barely knows how to deal with it. There are problems with Anti-virus updates, automatic ping backs, help files stored centrally, PDF's needed from a server - the list goes on and on. It is now almost impossible to run a modern day computer without access to the internet.

Thinking about our ongoing reliance on the internet lead me to ask the following question:

How can we survive today without the internet?

Let's take away the obvious reason I use the internet - blogging. If I didn't blog and had no internet, how would my life change?

Well let's see what I couldn't do:

1) Check email (but I wouldn't need to because no-one else would have email)
2) Research - Wikipedia and Google are a researchers dream. I would have to resort to going to.. the library!
3) Pay bills - The number of bills I pay on-line is phenomenal. Utilities, subscriptions, tax, etc.
4) Internet banking. I run all my banking through the internet. Without it I would spend a lot of time waiting in the queue at the local branch
5) Grocery shopping: Being able to grocery shop on-line is a boon - especially when they deliver for you. It saves time (but not necessarily money) and is a lifesaver
6) Buy presents on-line. Having the ability to look for something on, say, Amazon, order it, pay for it, have it gift wrapped and get it delivered to my sister and her family, or my parents is something that has saved my skin on several occasions. Without that I have to resort to actually visiting the shops, wrapping things myself and delivering them via the post office
7) Buying stamps. The Royal Mail now offers the ability to purchase stamps on line and have them printed on an envelope. It cuts out the middleman, works seamlessly and is virtually foolproof. I love it.
8) Read the news. On-line newspapers are fabulous inventions. You get to keep up with your favourite publications without needing to dispose of them when they are finished. This also includes comic strips like Dilbert and Doonsbury
9) Buy cinema and theatre tickets. Having the ability to book a theatre or cinema ticket via the internet removes the need to phone the venue, or visit them and wait in line.
10) Share things. With the advent of video sharing websites like Youtube or photo sharing sites like Flickr it has become so easy to share things across the distance. My sister has three children and I get regular updates on them via photos which can go on Flickr. This is quick, cheap and convenient. Without that she would have to get prints made for everyone and send them in the snail mail.
11) Twitter: Communicating with people through Twitter, Friendfeed and other IM has started to replace a lot of 'conversation'. Although many people hear a lot of noise rather than a lot information it does all work through the internet and there are gems that come out from those communications. (How about the conversation recently where a famous blogger had gone to a conference and forgotten his Mac power cable. He polled the Twitterverse and within an hour had one in his hand from a local boy)

Of course the other side of all of this is that without the internet I would probably spend less time in front of the computer and more time out being sociable and meeting people. But then again people wouldn't be able to start a blog on banking and sell it later for $15million

All this does beg the question of how did we survive before the internet?

Any thoughts and comments?

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