incomplete: fundamental cultural changes caused by the internet

I’m sure there are plenty, PLENTY, of other essays by far smarter people than me in this topic, so rather than let this languish in the “polish this up” bucket, I’ll throw it out as is because I know I’ll never truly ever finish this. Still, this actually reads fairly decently for a 30-minute stream-of-consciousness bit. Oh, and I know it’s not ten!

Ten Ways Internet/Computers have changed our culture deeply.

– I barely know what a phone book is anymore, if I want to find a location or phone number for a business or category of business that I need to visit, I’ll search for it on the web. This is a culmination of easy, extensive searching and ubiquitous web presence. Phone book? Ok, I’ve used it to find a mechanic on a Sunday…

– Dispelling irrational answers to questions – Back when I was a kid, you had four places to gleen information, in general: media, teachers, parents, public library. Media would have included newspapers, magazines, radio, and television. All of these meant effort and a certain expectation of trust. The web still requires trust, but I can much more quickly find corraborating stories and information and weed out the misinformation. While the web may not give accurate information all the time, it at least gives me a better chance of self-serving accurate information.

– I’m more in control of my time. While the Internet seems to suck time away with an infinite number of things to do and see, it does let me bring back time control into my life. Rather than wait for 30 minutes in the evening news to see the sports scores or tomorrow’s weather, I can get it immediately online. I can skip the things I don’t care about, and read more of what I do care about. I can shop and order products online, research and compare.

– I’m more in control of my tastes and interests. In my youth, I was only exposed to whatever was near at hand, for the most part. Musically, I only experienced what was available on the radio, television, or through friends, all of which precluded most anything that was not pop-oriented. With such portable media and access to anything I want, I can expand my boundaries and listen to musical media that I never, ever will hear on the radio in the central United States. As a kid, if I wanted to figure out the solutions to a particular video game, I had to wait for it to be released in book form, in a magazine, or advice from friends in my neighborhood. My neighborhood for interests is now limitless, and I don’t have to leave a game unsolved.

– My social network has grown. As a child, I had a finite number of people I knew and could spend time with, all of which had to be in close proximity to me, unless I picked up a pen pal. Today, I can get first hand information about life in China through knowing people either in chats or other social networks, or through their blogs and stories.

– My idea of a job has dramatically changed. I can’t actually imagine what I would do for work without the computerization revolution. I have not experience office work without automation or computers or digital information. I’m not that removed from such an archaic workplace, but it certainly seems a world away.

– I am a much more informed and well-supplied consumer. Rather than rely on a magazine, friends, or in-store help, I can self-serve online research on what products are good and which ones to avoid. Hell, I can also buy things online without getting up off my ass, either from storefronts or auction sites. In fact, not only can I research online, but if I want specific item ABCD, I don’t have to hunt my city for it and maybe walk away empty-handed. I pretty much *will* find it online, somewhere.