I read an interesting article today in response to another controversial article about the “death of email”. I find it humorous that the poor woman who was nearly persecuted for her article, never said email was dying, just losing popularity and prominence. I guess there’s still some dispute on that idea. But I disgress.
I think it’s interesting that no matter how wonderful and revolutionizing a new technological advancement is, four groups of people emerge. *Note: Sometimes this does not happen because this advancement dies off before adoption by the majority takes place.
1. There’s a small group of activists who are overly excited about how wonderful and convenient this new *fill in the blank* is, how it will dramatically change how we communicate/entertain ourselves/do business/whatever else you can think of! And before you know it, <normal device that is working perfectly fine right now> will be completely replaced by this new *fill in the blank*!!!
2. There is a larger group of people who are interested, skeptical, briefly fascinated, or bored who try this New Big Thing and make up their mind about it. And, regardless of whether they use it or not, still use the old way or the other way of doing things for some time. The adoption rate by this group is usually the deciding factor of whether this technological development will become commonplace.
3. There is an equally large (usually) group of people who know very little about this so called New Big Thing that everyone who’s anyone is using and don’t really care about it, and wait to adopt the trend when the hype (and often the price) goes down. They adopt this technological advancement after several years when all the kinks have been ironed out, and when they discover this is a more efficient method of doing what they do.
4. There is a small group of people who are utterly clueless and will continue using their “extremely out of date and oh-so-not popular” method of doing things and will be perfectly content with it. This group only adopts the thing when their technologically advanced friends or relatives coerce them into updating or their local provider no longer offers the old way.
Nuff said. This happened for cars, telephones, and tv’s and is still happening to today with broadband Internet services, smartphones, blue-ray and facebook.
Because of group 3, and especially 4, there are still people using rotary phones, dial-up, and hand-written letters.
If it wasn’t for group 2, and especially 1, we wouldn’t know about some great conveniences that have truly improved our lives.
The truth is, the new big thing has its place for the people who like new things and need the change. But there will always be room for the good old days and the traditional forms of transportation, communication, education, and entertainmentation… *ahem* I mean… (hehe!)
I still remember in middle school, the first time that my little world was shattered by a Group 1 futuristic hopeful who told me that telephones would soon no longer be used anymore. But by now these future-thinkers don’t phase me. So lets not get our undies in a bundle! Email isn’t going anywhere! Just like radio, newspapers, dial-up, and telephones. They still have a purpose to serve.
So… what group are you in?
I recently read an article and was simply appalled. Unfortunately, this is not some loony outspoken voice, but a common conclusion of many recent articles I’ve read. Here is, basically, the premise of this writer’s (and other’s) logic.
More and more people are using Internet services. True!
The Internet is becoming a larger venue for business and education. True again… among other things!
People who do not have access to the Internet lack the ability to gain from these advancements. Well, of course!
Many internet and phone companies have essentially given up on being able to afford providing broadband to certain areas. Very true! This includes my area.
THEREFORE… It is the government’s duty to provide broadband Internet to the unserved and underserved areas of the U.S. What?!
The duty of government is to protect the people. I don’t know why that’s so hard to grasp. Why should the government do any more than that? We are a free people. Free to create our own homes, jobs, and families around our preferences, choices, and beliefs. We are free to decide how to invest (or waste) or own money. The foundation of this nation was based on that idea. Freedom, and capitalism.
Sure, there are plenty of scenarios where people do not benefit from a capitalistic society. We all know the stories of the filthy rich and the dirt poor all because of capitalism (although that is not exactly true—it’s because of injustice and poor decisions). We live in a flawed world—we can’t escape flaws. Every other type of government also has flaws and disadvantages—perhaps more than ours.
But back to the duty of government. There are three essential ways that the government can protect the people:
Protect them from threats against them from the outside.
Create and enforce laws that create a safe and orderly environment from the inside.
Collect taxes from the people to fund these operations.
The government has since added providing education and supporting the disabled and unemployed to their list of duties. Regardless, since when is it the goverment’s duty to provide broadband Internet?
America has forgotten their rights and freedoms and chosen a route of dependency and self-insufficiency. We are willing to give up freedom so we have less responsibility. We want to be taken care of and have things done for us. We don’t want to work. We don’t want to make wise choices so we have good enough credit to buy our own houses and cars. What if we educated our own children or fed and clothed our own poor? What if we were willing to sweat and smell to pay our own bills? The government would have no choice but to do the job they were originally meant to do—protect us.
This article that I read had many truths that are clearly agreed upon by the majority of us. I am not saying that providing broadband to “unserved and underserved rural areas” is a bad thing or that I am against the spread of broadband. I am simply proposing that our country is a little too dependent on being bailed out by the government. Unfortunately, the more things we leave up to the goverment to run, the less freedoms we have. Is that what we really want?
In my search of news and blogs related to my niche, I run across articles discussing the billions of stimulus dollars being given to telephone and Internet companies to get broadband access to rural America. Yes, that would be nice. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 31% of rural America has broadband—that’s more than 2 out of every 3 rural homes are on dial-up or don’t have Internet services at all. Of course people who use the Internet prefer broadband over dial-up (assuming we don’t discuss costs). But why spend all that government money on getting broadband in the middle of a recession? I am one of those people who lives in the country and I have dial-up, but I oppose these gargantuan spending moves.
For one, many rural people are farmers and have other outdoor occupations. That’s what you do when you have the outdoors all around you! Sure, there’s probably a lot of people that would enjoy having broadband in their homes, but how will that improve the economy?
In every article that I read about increasing broadband availability and how it will boost the economy, there is a story about Mrs. So-and-so who needs broadband Internet to improve her online business, etc. Is that a substantial justification for spending billions of dollars to make broadband available—the presumption that entrepreneurs all over rural America need to get their online business off the ground?
This got me thinking. What is the Internet for, to the majority of America? What do people spend the most time doing when they are online? Is it work and business related? I will discuss my research over the next several posts, and I hope you find them as interesting as I did.
First, I ran a search query for the top most popular websites. The first result was blocked on my work computer for nudity and the like. Well that’s inspiring! Moving on.
Here’s a list of most popular websites according to Alexa.com. NOTE: I did not include any search engine websites, like Google (which is number one), because we can’t tell whether it was used for work or pleasure (I may research most popular search queries later).
Facebook—Hmm… social networking! Ok, sure, some people are using Facebook for work and advertising, but it’s mainly used for personal, social, and entertainment purposes.
Youtube—Watching movies? Yes, this should boost our economy.
Blogger.com—Another form of social networking, focused on posting opinions and stories.
Myspace—Anyone see a pattern?
Twitter—…billions of dollars so more people can tweet! How exciting!
Rapidshare—A website where you can upload and share large files. Could be work-related.
Microsoft Corporation—Now here’s a possible serious, work-related site—than again, you’re probably doing window’s updates, or trying to fix your Windows computer…again.
WordPress.com—Oh cool! I’m on wordpress.com right now!
Ebay—now this site could definitely be a small business/work related site! …and also a very popular shopping site.
Craigslist—see entry above.
I’m sure that the argument could be made that businesses can benefit from social networking sites, which is clearly at an all time high. I could be wrong, but I wouldn’t go as far to suppose that even half of the social networking going on every day has anything to do with entrepreneurship, job seeking, or business advancement.
We also see a clear trend in online shopping and advertising, which can help improve the economy in some ways. I would agree with the theory that making broadband more widely available would increase the amount of money spent on online purchases, or as a result of online advertising. While spending and ecomonic success are correlated, it’s not a causal relationship. I would venture to say that we’ve already learned our lesson in that area–but that is for another discussion!
More research to come! Please feel free to comment!