How Has the Internet Changed the World?

Bharat Kumar Gupta, a member of the LockerGnome community, asks:

“Before technology became as advanced as it is today, what were some of the challenges we faced?”

Without a doubt, the biggest technological change in recent history is the Internet. This Web of connected servers serves as the backbone for what has become a revolutionary change in how we communicate. Now, you have the ability to video chat with someone on the other side of the world in seconds.

This connection has changed the way people communicate with service providers and industry influencers, giving them an active voice in the creation of their products and content.

Before the Internet, you were sort of cut off from the rest of the world. You could drop a significant amount of money on a long-distance or overseas call, but that was rarely practical or financially viable.

Your pool of friends was more limited by proximity, and your ability to market a product or personal brand was even more limited. Local businesses rarely had the money to go national, where today international commerce is a matter of putting up a Web site or signing up for an eBay account.

In the health field, doctors have more immediate access to the latest research and trends. This information makes diagnosis and treatment of patients easier and more accurate.

Scientists benefit from being able to establish powerful virtual supercomputers through the use of the Web and software that participants run on their home computers.

Engineers and inventors have immediate access to the largest database of ideas and information the world has ever known.

Job seekers can find work in a much larger area, often finding their dream job in another state. In many cases, they are able to work that perfect job from the comfort of their own home thanks to email, instant messengers, and VoIP services such as Skype.

During a disaster situation, people have been able to tweet and email their distress calls when regular phone service is down. Lives have been saved, and some cities are implementing a texting branch of their 911 service as a result.

Countries weighed down by countless years of oppression are beginning to see major change thanks to this new ability to communicate. Powerful citizen-driven movements such as the Arab Spring are driven by an open and unhindered ability to communicate and find information from all over the globe.

Over all, the world has changed dramatically and permanently thanks to the Internet. One can only imagine what kind of revolutionary change the next 20 years will bring.