Twenty-Five Years Later: Are We Better off with The World Wide Web?


In case you have been under a rock, this week was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first ever World Wide Web (WWW) page on August 23, 1991.

Celebrating the silver anniversary of the first WWW page is a milestone which brings reflection now in 2016.

Many things have happened since that fateful day in 1991. Computers have become cheaper (and smaller) thanks to the invention of smartphones and tablets. The days of hearing that annoying dial-up sound, confirming you have connected to the Internet, have gone with Wi-Fi and 4G mobile networks. Adios Yahoo! Chat. Hello Facebook, and other social media networks for interacting with others.

monitor-1308951_1920.jpg

Monitor via Pixybay Under Public Domain by the Creative Commons 

 

Meanwhile, the Internet of Things is in line to become what some dub it as “social media for machines.” As author Jeremy Rifkin calls it the convergence of communications, energy, and a logistics Internet. The WWW helped guide this.

Now for the one billion dollar question: Is the world better off with the WWW/Internet or not in 2016?

It’s not an easy answer. Both the Yes and no sides have excellent arguments which would make you think.

Many benefits of having the WWW has been promoting another global brand into another area of the world. Consider in the early 1990’s, most people in North America would not have heard of world-class soccer competitions, including the UEFA Champions League, or Copa Libertadores. The WWW has allowed international organizations like both UEFA, and CONEBOL to promote their brands at a global reach. Places like Canada could see top-notch club soccer more often. Now in 2016, the UEFA Champions League is frequently seen on multiple channels of TSN, or beIN Sports. Perhaps even, more important is this has spilled over into North America’s top-tier soccer league, Major League Soccer (MLS). MLS now is considered a top choice sport among millennials.

Another significant advantage of the WWW has been able to cut transaction costs. A 2012 Mashable article noted without the Internet, paying for stamps to send a letter, instead of emails would cost $6.3 US trillion. That’s a lot of money saved by businesses, and individuals that could have gone to the US Postal Service (Or Canada Post in the Great White North).

Lowering transaction costs from the WWW has allowed for more opportunities for collaboration, globally. Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams highlighted this in their 2010 book Macrowikinomics. They argued:

In this new age of networked intelligence, businesses and communities are bypassing crumbling institutions. We are altering the way our financial institutions and governments operate; how we educate our children; and how the healthcare, newspaper, and energy industries serve their customers.

A good example of mass collaboration is CleanTechnica.com, which is a blog focusing reporting about the new post-industrial renewable energy we are heading. This site provides analysis and news which mainstream media fails to pick up on clean technology.

Yet, the WWW has provided major societal headaches.

Privacy and security the one issue to me, which can drop an atomic bomb on any good the WWW has done for society.

With social media tools, it’s possible for someone to stalk someone on a daily basis. In 2012, The Guardian reported social networks and the advancement of smartphones was making easier for stalkers to target people.

Meanwhile, in 2016, cyber hackers have a never-ending list of destructive tools at their destruction ranging from viruses, malware, and ransomware. Who can forget the Heartbleed bug, which knocked down CRA, and extended the tax deadline in 2014 by five days? (I know because that was my first year of running my tax business and drove me bonkers). Or consider the “Dragonfly Incident” of 2013, in which hackers targeted a French website of a renewable energy company, implanted a virus, which infected customer computers.

Are we better off now than in 1991? Yes, and no. Yes, we have more information, yes we can collaborate more with people from other parts of the world. No, we are more at both an increased personal security and privacy risk. It’s not as simple as playing your Playstation 4 on your 50-inch Samsung smart tv against someone from China, or Pokemon Go on your smart phone. There are real issues which everyone needs to grasp. It’s gut check time for government, policy makers, and Silicon Valley.

The WWW/Internet will bring more positives, and just as many challenges in the future.

Perhaps, here are two videos from two people who represent the pros and cons of the WWW/Internet. Don Tapscott, and Andrew Keen.

What do you think? Has the WWW/Internet been a good or bad influence? Connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, or by email at adamjwpg@mymts.net.

 

 

How Far Would Renewable Energy Be Without On-line Media?


EarthTechling and Cleantechnica are two of the more popular news related websites pertaining to alternative energy & clean technology. Photo Sources: EarthTechling (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/klcfmghlkbplmiaeileeepjmnbgcodei); Cleantechnica (www.cleantechnica.com)

What role has on-line media played with the growth of the renewable energy sector in the past ten to twenty years? That is a question that really has not been up for discussion within the renewable energy community.

However, it does merit some discussion. Afterall, commentators are saying that we are in the midst of quite a change in mass communications. No longer in the days of the World Wide Web do we get our information from just ten television channels and local radio stations. Rather there is the five hundred channel universe, web 2.0, smart phones, and tablets are bombarding our senses with information.

Despite all those concerns of information overload, the Internet is at least providing an outlet for other voices that normally would get shut out.

For newer industries like renewable industry that need to grow all important market share to increase their products, it provides a means of an efficient communication strategy that would have been more difficult in a ten channel universe or newspaper era.

I won’t go into too much into detail, but you can thank a lot of the renewable energy revolution’s backbone from the information technology revolution that happened in the mid to late 1990’s to early 2000’s.

However, I think it was the power of Web 2.0, when it really started to take off in around early to mid 2000’s we saw a new breed of on-line media take off. Blogs, thanks to Blogger, WordPress, along with podcasts have allowed the average citizen to get involved in media. That has been important in the spread of the discussion of renewable energy’s role within society.

Case in point, in the early 2000’s, as the Internet and the World Wide Web were in their infancy, there were very few websites you could find decent commentary or news related to clean technology. After all, both were fairly young infant industries.

Yet, as we moved further along into the first decade of the 21st century, good quality on-line media was being devoted to the subject. From podcast radio shows, to documentaries, and on-line publications, the ante of the quality of news within the renewable energy industry has increased, as the industry as grown.

Websites, including EarthTechling, Cleantechnica, and Renewable Energy World provide superb content on a daily basis for those who want to know how alternative energy affects the nexus of economics, markets, politics, globalization and environmental issues on a daily basis. I consider these the MSNBC’s CNN‘s and CNBC‘s of the renewable energy world. You can thank the Internet for that.

Heck, even Bloomberg’s website a mainstream business source for news, added a sustainability part of their site thanks to the increasing appetite for sustainable development issues amongst business people. Bloomberg types are not your stereotypical granola munching hippie types, either, folks.

In the future, when we look back at media, and energy, in the early 21st century, there is a good chance that likely, we will say, that without on-line media’s presence of blogs, on-line video and podcasts, who knows how much this sector would have grown.

Perhaps maybe this paragraph from a recent Corporate Knights article sums it up best of where the interlinking between alternative energy and the World Wide Web are headed:

“Thanks to the web, citizens in every location of the globe are connecting and contributing, strand by strand, to what is in essence a mesh of surveillance around the planet, constantly taking the pulse of nature and making note of the pressures we place on it. “It’s really the web and Internet infrastructure that’s allowing the scaling up of all of this,” said Jeff Seifert, chief technology officer at Cisco Canada. Cisco and NASA are working together on a non-profit initiative, called the Planetary Skin Institute, that’s aiming to make sense of – and help decision-makers act on – this massive (and growing) wave of data.

And here’s the thing: you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. As Berners-Lee likes to say, “Most of the history of the web is still ahead of us.” “