I think it is indisputable that the internet can be very enjoyable to
play with. I spend far too much time having fun when I should be
working. However, there is a very serious side to it that will, I think,
change the world.
I recently chaired a meeting in Oslo on the 'International Relations of
the Net' which was attempting to see in what ways international relations
will be affected by the net. Hopefully a book will be forthcoming circa
June 97. The various areas discussed were security, military
applications, governmental transparency, cultural effects (bear in mind
Iran & China here), commercial applications, educational uses (the
primary school system in Iceland is a case in point; distance learning
and entertainment (why are software houses, carriers, and producers
getting in bed together)etc. among many other dimensions. Is the US
government investing billions of $ on a 'toy'.
As far as academia is concerned the uses are manifold, from the speedy
acquisition of data, to scientific and intellectual collaboration across
boundaries. I also have starte getting students from around the world
applying for study here (the University of Kent) because they pick us up
on the net. There are also journals going on the net. Have a look at
The point is not what the net is now - remembering that Tim Berners-Lee
only wrote the WWW protocols in 1989 and it only came online in 1993 -
but what it will be in the future. It is inmy opinion alreay useful, but
the implications for the future are staggering.
Howard Frederick in his book 'Global Communication and International
Relations' estimates that from 0 to 1500 AD the amount of publicly
available information doubled while today it is doubling every 18 months
(I have no idea how he worked this out and even if the figures are wrong
the principle is right). The next major problem is not a question of
getting information, but the problem of managing information. This in
itself is a fascinating subject that is going to become crucial.