The Internet became forty this weekBy Nick James
September 11, 2009
The Internet became officially forty this week, and like any forty year old, it’s a time for reflec-tion.
For me, the phenomenon that is today’s Internet only really took off in the public’s imagination around ten years ago.
Prior to that there was just too much general uncertainty about it for e-commerce to be estab-lished as the trading method of the future. How times have changed.
Currently it’s not only the young and fearless who type in their credit card details and send them out into the great abyss, it’s mum’s who haven’t got the time to get to the shops and grandparents who just can’t face the hassle of shopping trips into town.
In short, whatever age bracket you fit into these days if you’re not computer literate and online, you’re out of touch, pure and simple.
The Internet is a mighty force that’s driven by human imagination and, like the best brains that continually push it forward; it’s expanding and diversifying at lightening speed.
Nowadays the types of content available in online media are incalculable and the benefits of free online entertainment are manifold.
Specialist online radio stations are attracting millions of new listeners and it’s predicted that within the next few years the amount of people viewing world wide television services online will increase three fold.
All these developments amount to more freedom of choice for the Internet user, which is very good news.
Inevitably, such massive changes in the way people access their media and entertainment has caused consternation amongst those who would seek to charge for what can now be downloaded for free, albeit often illegally.
In light of numerous complaints, most notably from the music industry, Peter Mandelson has now rekindled threats to have users disconnected from broadband services if they illegally download films and music from the Internet.
This type of punishment is ill conceived. Many members of a household may share only one Internet connection, so if one person in the group were to be disconnected for supposed wrong do-ing, others are totally blameless would also be penalised.
This would be very unfair as for many the Internet is an established and integral part of their working life.
There are undoubtedly many musicians who rely on royalties provided through the sale of their work, which are diminished through the illegal downloading of their material
But there are as many others for whom the Internet works as an extremely positive force by in-creasing their popularity and raising their profile.
The days when even the most well known bands relentlessly toured for little profit have long since past.
With the help of the Internet large audiences are generated for public appearances of popular en-tertainers who are thereby guaranteed, not only high prices for their concert tickets, but also excep-tionally lucrative deals with promotion companies.
I’ve already seen the retail cost of music albums decrease from previously unaffordable prices and this is obviously one way to offset the amount of illegal downloads.
Also, I’m sure that many young people would be prepared to pay for a fully comprehensive music download service if the amount they were charged was realistic.
In short, there are ways to alleviate the illegal download problem, rather than the government taking a confrontational approach at this stage of events.
The Internet undoubtedly has the capability to consume other forms of media in its wake and forty years on from its creation its full potential still hasn’t been fathomed.
It has changed so much in our lives forever, not least the way in which we access our news, films and music.
Its influence is so immense that all who wish to use it for benefit must find ways to work within its ever widening boundaries, because its power is too strong to oppose.