The Internet Today

Internet Map. Image by The Opte Project

Internet Map. Image by The Opte Project

The Internet, as has been pointed out on a veritable multitude of occasions, has changed the way we communicate with one another. It is the newest mass medium, and in its short commercial existence has managed to transform the media landscape: from hotels in Pretoria to consumer electronics companies to searches for a Land Rover defender for sale, the Internet can benefit a multitude of organisations and markets.

Today, a reported 97% of all telecommunications takes place over this vast network, and those who do not have access to it are increasingly finding themselves at a disadvantage. It would seem as if the central revolution that the Internet has enabled relates to the immense pace at which new knowledge can be generated owing to the unprecedented flow of information. This is to say that everything from Comic Books to dog harnesses and even detailed governmental policy can be found online…

In this light, whereas the global internetwork is a communications structure, the emergent phenomenon of the net is the generation of new knowledge. Access to information has proved to be of immense value to knowledge based economies: the proliferation of usable and relevant knowledge, it can be seen, has given rise to new technologies, corporate and marketing strategies, commodity products, and governance policies.

To put this above point in a different way, it could be said that the rapid development of the Internet has highlighted the fact that information is a commodity, and that to remain competitive and up to date, a firm or individual must have access to the so-called “information superhighway”. The relationship, it must be noted, is reciprocal: through a connection with the net, companies and individuals given access to information and, in turn, they can also make information available to others. In business terms, this means that the net can be a highly effective and accessible source of direct or indirect communication with clients. For example, a company based in Johannesburg can let a client based in Cape Town know about property for sale in Bloemfontein. Geographical locations have narrowed to the extent that in virtual reality, the world truly is a “neighbourhood”.

Moreover, email makes up to date newsletters a must for companies that rely on repeat business: the emailed newsletter, like a blog, does much to promote a brand image/company ethos, and keeps the brand notably visible in a highly competitive environment. Considering that the Internet currently has about 2.3 billion users, the potential audience for advertising is also enormous. The advantage that the net provides advertisers with is that, unlike television, radio and print, it can direct an advert at a targeted clientele. The physical attributes that underpin television, radio and print means that adverts presented in these media are widely distributed over a very broad spectrum of society. The rate of sales generated per advert viewing is low as compared to highly targeted adverts: with targeted campaigns, clients can be identified by their internet usage patterns, which in turn means that sales generated per advert viewing is much higher than traditional media. Competitive businesses have to remain on top of new communications trends to keep their brand or product highly visible in an “infosphere” where marketers have to continually innovate to grab the attention of the consumer base.

The social aspect of the net is worth detailed examination, but due to space constraints, will only be briefly mentioned here. Hopefully, it will suffice, in this short introduction, to affirm that the benefits of social networking can be prodigious for both, your personal life as well as your professional life. This is to say that the Internet can establish social and business contacts otherwise not available in everyday interactions.

With the above benefits in mind, it should be clear that the whole of the human race could benefit from eradicating the digital divide.