Having the internet as a tool to get information is one thing although it amazes me that so many people do not know what the internet is capable of doing for them which is opening up the world.
Just two and a half years ago I had absolutely no idea what a blog was. Then I stumbled upon something I don't even care to mention other than that it is one of the largest right wing blogs out there. I saw a box, it said "write your comment", I did, and MIRACULOUSLY it appeared on the blog for others to react to. Needless to say I moved on to more open minded pastures since then, remembering VAGUELY some of the most infuriating "conversations" I've ever experienced.
Even online versions of newspapers now are allowing people to post comments on many of their postings.
And some, want to make it look like they are open for conversation with comments galore, only to turn around and ERASE all the comments (over 150 of them) when the conversation goes in a direction they don't care for.
Some don't like this open discourse however and are attempting to shut down this conversation. Hackers and even the great Google in the sky, the man from Oz behind the curtain, are both doing their darndest to try to put a stop to this open discourse. How many bloggers or websites do you know of personally who have been locked out from Google blogger, or knocked of Google news? How many have been hacked that you know of? Yesterday's attack on Uruknet was just the latest of such occurrences.
What is the internet good for and could I live without it? I COULD live without it, but not being able to converse with others and LEARN from them would be something I wouldn't want to have to go through.
Imagine just 15 years ago, world wide web inventor, Sir Berners-Lee, stated that the internet would put “all the data in the world” at the fingertips of every user - he wasn’t exaggerating. Today, there are just over 165 million different web sites around the world and everyone from children, to adults, to elderly ‘silver-surfers’, are all at its beck and call.
The internet lets you escape to another world, be informed about other cultures, keep in contact with friends, be entertained, voice opinions and so much more. It has literally transformed the world we live in - for each and every one of us. For 29-year old Palestinian/Syrian public relations executive Jumana Bississo the internet is the best thing ever.
“My first year and a half of university was without the internet. Initially, I just didn’t get it and viewed it more as hassle than an aid, but now I cannot imagine life without it. It has made everything so much easier,” says Bississo. “Emailing is such an easy form of communication, but overall I love the internet because it exposes you to so many different ways of thinking, which I think is a good thing. Voices that wouldn’t necessarily be heard in the mainstream media get the chance to be heard on the internet. It opens up doors for people.”
Opening up doors, is exactly how Anton Fernandez views the internet. He says that without the internet most expatriates would probably not be calling Dubai ‘home’ today. “I was surfing the internet in Europe when I came across job vacancies in Dubai. I thought I would try my luck as I am interested in travelling and next thing I know, I got the job and have been living here for four years now,” says Anton. “Without the internet I don’t think finding work abroad would be an easy task.”
Freedom of expression is something that the internet has facilitated greatly. While in more democratic societies freedom of expression is considered a ‘right’, in other parts of the world people have found it difficult to freely express themselves. But, the vast scope and ability of the internet has meant that closed off countries like Myanmar and North Korea can no longer hide behind their borders.
Manoj Kumar is a Dubai-based internet blog writer, who revels in his ability to express himself online. “I could not write my blog page without the internet. The web blog is a great means of self-expression. It is a place to vent harmless feelings and opinons. It’s actually therapeutic,” says Manoj. “At the same time blogs inform people who are looking for information, it opens people up to different views, and such dialogue is important. The freedom of expression is something that I really enjoy about the internet. But that is the very reason why autocratic governments are afraid of blogs.”
The ones that really know the internet are those that have grown up with it. Sameh Khan is a 14-year-old student at Dubai College. Sameh is actually a year younger than the world wide web, but that hasn’t stopped him mastering it. And it seems communication and entertainment is what teenagers best use the net for.
“Email is kind of outdated now, it’s instant messaging that is usually used between kids in the same school or community, and also between families. I use the internet for music too, nobody buys CD’s anymore. If I want to watch a movie, I just rent it off the internet. There are places you can go on the internet and rent movies for a certain length of time,” says Sameh. Homework too is easily finished with the aid of the internet. In fact, a quick Google search seems to be the answer to most school assignments these days.
Sameh says that he can’t even quantify the amount of times that he uses the internet in a day, but one thing is for sure, if it suddenly disappeared, he would be lost. “Sometimes when the internet is down, or the connection is lost, I sit in front of the computer and I don’t know what to do. I’m lost without it,” remarks Sameh.
Astonishingly, even those that are barely knee-high to a grasshopper are internet savvy these days. Dubai father, Aamir Shah says that his five-year-old son, Adam Bin Aamir, is well versed in how to use the net. Adam, who is only in the kindergarten-two class at school, speaks to his cousins and friends on Yahoo messenger and can log onto the computer himself and connect to the internet and Yahoo messenger without any assistance - in fact, it is five-year old Adam who helps his mother navigate the net.
We asked Adam what it was he likes the best about the internet. He was playing an online game at the time and only had time for a brief answer. “I like to play online games. I like Power Rangers, motorbike games and cars. I do painting on the computer,” says Adam.