Google. Facebook. StumbleUpon. Amazon. Email. Skype. LOLCATZ.
The last 20 years have been witness to some truly amazing innovations thanks to the internet. The introduction of the world-wide web has had more lasting effects than any other invention in history. This, of course, is something you know very well.
However there are some huge implications that are much less obvious than our new-found ability to Google anything or ‘poke’ our friends online. The internet is revered as a source of endless entertainment, but that is barely scratching the surface. The real awesomeness lies in these five principles:
The playing field is now more level than ever. Previously you had to know someone or just be plain lucky to get your name out there. Now even the smallest nobody can become somebody thanks to the internet. A great example of this is the homeless man with the ‘golden voice’ who was discovered because someone posted a video of him on YouTube. Within days of the video being uploaded, he was offered a job by the Dallas Mavericks and was on every talk show in America. No matter who you are, if you have talent and/or ambition, you can make yourself known using the internet.
Musicians can easily get their music heard using services like YouTube, SoundCloud and 8Tracks. Budding film-makers can upload their films to countless video hosting sites and online film contests free of charge. StumbleUpon empowers this concept even further by allowing quality content to be discovered even if users don’t know they’re looking for it. The internet is a fertile breeding ground for undiscovered talent.
Despite being separated by borders, cultures, languages, politics and idealisms, we can all come together on the internet. Grassroots movements are now as common as, well, grass. Facebook groups, Support-This-Cause websites, PayPal donation buttons and other internet tools make it easy for any cause to attain massive support.
On a more basic level, musicians remix each other while scientists build off each other’s research. To put it simple, we all learn, grow and become inspired by seeing what other people are doing on the internet. The web is an gigantic scrapbook illustrating what the human spirit is capable of. This concept alone makes the internet a shining light in the history of mankind.
1 word: WikiLeaks. The internet has democratized the flow of information. We no longer reply on biased newspapers and news hours for our information. If it is known to someone, it will end up on the internet and the world will soon know it too. Censorship is virtually impossible with the exception of a handful of countries like China.
The best example of this is how Twitter has been breaking news stories faster than reporters. Most recently a single tweet from protesters who were fired upon by police in Libya spread like wildfire, rallying international support for their cause. All news is now international news. This puts the incredible burden of accountability on world leaders and organizations: if you fuck up, the world will know within a matter of minutes.
If you’re stuck in Nebraska with no one around you with your interests, you’re actually quite far from being stuck. The internet is a playground full of people who think like you. We take for granted how closely connected we now are to the rest of the world and to those we love.
Our methods of communication have also become much more intimate. 20 years ago the most chummy connection you could have with an international friend was an uber-expensive phone call. Now you can video chat with them for free. Apple spoke true when they preached about the magic of seeing someone’s face while talking to them. That addition changes the dynamic of the conversation in a profound way. When someone laughs you can see the smile evolve into audible glee. It’s almost like you’re there with them… which will do until teleportation comes around :)
Up until this last decade, career freedom meant you could work from home. Now it means that both your office and your home can be anywhere in the world! If you choose the right occupation, you could travel year-round and never miss a beat with your job. There is more opportunity for freedom now than there has ever been.
Even more amazing are the career options that the internet has brought to the table. Starting your own business entails a sizable amount of paperwork, legal actions and capital. Starting your own website requires nothing more than a $100 and some perseverance. Furthermore, even the most simple of websites can create thousands of dollars in revenue per month. In short, it is now easier to work for yourself than ever before. Books like The Four Hour Work Week give simple but details instructions on how to start your own online business. Anyone can do it and there is no end to the potential for profit.
What other great things do think resulted from the internet revolution?