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How the Internet Has Changed Everyday Life Change | Communication | Culture | Internet | education boards in india The Internet has turned our existence upside down. It has revolutionized communications, to the extent that it is now our preferred medium of everyday communication. In almost everything we do, we use the Internet. Ordering a pizza, buying a television, sharing a moment with a friend, sending a picture over instant messaging. Before the Internet, if you wanted to keep up with the news, you had to walk down to the newsstand when it opened in the morning and buy a local edition reporting what had happened the previous day. But today a click or two is enough to read your local paper and any news source from anywhere in the world, updated up to the minute. The Internet itself has been transformed. In its early days—which from a historical perspective are still relatively recent—it was a static network designed to shuttle a small freight of bytes or a short message between two terminals; it was a repository of information where content was published and maintained only by expert coders. Today, however, immense quantities of information are uploaded and downloaded over this electronic leviathan, and the content is very much our own, for now we are all commentators, publishers, and creators. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Internet widened in scope to encompass the IT capabilities of universities and research centers, and, later on, public entities, institutions, and private enterprises from around the world. The Internet underwent immense growth; it was no longer a state-controlled project, but the largest computer network in the world, comprising over 50, 000 sub-networks, 4 million systems, and 70 million users. The emergence of web 2.0 in the first decade of the twenty-first century was itself a revolution in the short history of the Internet, fostering the rise of social media and other interactive, crowd-based communication tools. The Internet was no longer concerned with information exchange alone: it was a sophisticated multidisciplinary tool enabling individuals to create content, communicate with one another, and even escape reality. Today, we can send data from one end of the world to the other in a matter of seconds, make online presentations, live in parallel “game worlds, ” and use pictures, video, sound, and text to share our real lives, our genuine identity. Personal stories go public; local issues become global. The rise of the Internet has sparked a debate about how online communication affects social relationships. The Internet frees us from geographic fetters and brings us together in topic-based communities that are not tied down to any specific place. Ours is a networked, globalized society connected by new technologies. The Internet is the tool we use to interact with one another, and accordingly poses new challenges to privacy and security. Information technologies have wrought fundamental change throughout society, driving it forward from the industrial age to the networked era. In our world, global information networks are vital infrastructure—but in what ways has this changed human relations? The Internet has changed business, education, government, healthcare, and even the ways in which we interact with our loved ones—it has become one of the key drivers of social evolution. The changes in social communication are of particular significance. Although analogue tools still have their place in some sectors, new technologies are continuing to gain ground every day, transforming our communication practices and possibilities—particularly among younger people. The Internet has removed all communication barriers. Online, the conventional constraints of space and time disappear and there is a dizzyingly wide range of communicative possibilities. The impact of social media applications has triggered discussion of the “new communication democracy.” The development of the Internet today is being shaped predominantly by instant, mobile communications. The mobile Internet is a fresh revolution. Comprehensive Internet connectivity via smartphones and tablets is leading to an increasingly mobile reality: we are not tied to any single specific device, and everything is in the cloud. People no longer spend hours gazing at a computer screen after work or class; instead, they use their mobile devices to stay online everywhere, all the time. Anyone failing to keep abreast of this radical change is losing out on an opportunity. COMMUNICATION OPPORTUNITIES CREATED BY THE INTERNET The Internet has become embedded in every aspect of our day-to-day lives, changing the way we interact with others. This insight struck me when I started out in the world of social media. I created my first social network in 2005, when I was finishing college in the United States—it had a political theme. I could already see that social media were on the verge of changing our way of communicating, helping us to share information by opening up a new channel that cuts across conventional ones. That first attempt did not work out, but I learned from the experience.I get the feeling that in many countries failure is punished too harshly—but the fact is, the only surefire way of avoiding failure is to do nothing at all. I firmly believe that mistakes help you improve; getting it wrong teaches you how to get it right. Creativity, hard work, and a positive attitude will let you achieve any goal. In 2006, after I moved to Spain, I created Tuenti. Tuenti (which, contrary to widespread belief, has nothing to do with the number 20; it is short for “tu entidad, ” the Spanish for “your entity”) is a social communication platform for genuine friends. From the outset, the idea was to keep it simple, relevant, and private. That’s the key to its success. I think the real value of social media is that you can stay in touch from moment to moment with the people who really matter to you. Social media let you share experiences and information; they get people and ideas in touch instantly, without frontiers. Camaraderie, friendship, and solidarity—social phenomena that have been around for as long as humanity itself—have been freed from the conventional restrictions of space and time and can now thrive in a rich variety of ways. Out of all the plethora of communication opportunities that the Internet has opened up, I would highlight the emergence of social media and the way they have intricately melded into our daily lives. Social media have changed our personal space, altering the way we interact with our loved ones, our friends, and our sexual partners; they have forced us to rethink even basic daily processes like studying and shopping; they have affected the economy by nurturing the business startup culture and electronic commerce; they have even given us new ways to form broad-based political movements. The Internet and Education The Internet has clearly impacted all levels of education by providing unbounded possibilities for learning. I believe the future of education is a networked future. People can use the Internet to create and share knowledge and develop new ways of teaching and learning that captivate and stimulate students’ imagination at any time, anywhere, using any device. By connecting and empowering students and educators, we can speed up economic growth and enhance the well-being of society throughout the world. We should work together, over a network, to build the global learning society. The network of networks is an inexhaustible source of information. What’s more, the Internet has enabled users to move away from their former passive role as mere recipients of messages conveyed by conventional media to an active role, choosing what information to receive, how, and when. The information recipient even decides whether or not they want to stay informed.