Social networking, file sharing, and open source software production are all a result of the internet. The width and depth of global communication has never been larger or as easy to achieve. But how has the internet really changed society? Has it at all? There are many who would argue that internet merely gave society a new way to express behavior that has been present from the beginning. It is not the order of society that the internet has changed, merely the mode.
At its simplest, society is founded on communicating knowledge. That is why language and writing were invented. The internet is just a faster way of exchanging that knowledge. Like cars were faster than horses and the telegraph faster than letters, the internet is just a step up on the road to instant communication of thoughts, ideas, and information.
The internet did not change the content of the information either. The same people are coming up with the same basic ideas, the same raw data. The only thing that the internet has changed is the speed at which those ideas can be discussed and added to. The internet acts as a time machine, fast-forwarding past all the useless transport and exchange and allowing the actual work to take up the time.
The internet also allows for the data to be available publically and globally. No longer do you have to have real-life connections to see data. Even a layman can come up with ideas based on scientific research and discoveries. The data has not changed, but the ease of use has.
The internet also gives people the ability to track and see changes as they happen. Unlike the real world, computers can track people’s every movement and click and give data back in real time. Advertisers no longer have to wonder how many people they reach, or entertainers how big their influence is.
Research has been greatly affected by the internet, though the basics have not changed. The goal of any researcher is to compile all the information they need for a project. The internet allows that to be completed quicker and easier than ever before, yet the process remains the same. The change has only been in the time it takes and the ease at which the pertinent files can be found.
In conclusion, the internet has not changed society. It has sped it up and allowed it to be more global, but the basics remain the same. People still communicate information, still compile research, and still come up with new ideas the same way they always have. The internet merely distills society down to its roots and allows it to grow back stronger and faster.