The Internet May be a Necessity
By: Sam Shartzer


Introduction    

      Imagine what the future holds in store for us. People theorize that there maybe flying cars or great new forms of energy. Maybe machines that are fully automated commanded by voice recognition and aided by artificial intelligence. Most people like to think that the future is going to be a peaceful automated world where everyone is free to worry about more important things while machines do most of the manual labor. One thing is very clear about the future and that is the internet is going to play a great deal in it and if anyone wants to be successful they will not only have to be on it but be proficient with it.

      In the future it is possible that all jobs will be advertised on online forums. It is highly possible that all stock trading will take place on online trading websites. Most communication may be transferred over the web via voice and text for both business and pleasure. People will communicate over the web with their friends, family and business associates. Television maybe a thing of the past and all advertisements, news programs and shows will be broadcasted to millions online. Shopping in stores maybe extinct when people would rather sit at home on their computer and view abundant amounts of products on online malls and stores. Bills could be paid exclusively through the internet. Instead of using a credit card there maybe a internet currency that is linked with a person's bank and employment. With all these features and automations the internet has to offer it is likely we will see a day when the internet does all of this for us. With all of this emphasize on the internet in the future what does one supposed to do if they do not have access to the internet such as the homeless?

      According to Micheal Rogers from the Library Journal, presently the easiest and most popular way for a homeless person to get the internet and email is public libraries. Some estimate that thirty percent of people using the internet at libraries are homeless and the numbers of users are rising consistently. At this time homeless people use the internet for many reasons but most popular is the community social service websites. Some also use it for sending email and using these email accounts to store personal information (Rogers 27). Even though some homeless are getting their feet wet in the internet ocean many are still clueless and have little access to the internet. In order for them to survive in the future they will have to learn more about the internet and gain better access to the internet.

Online Job Hunting

      One of the biggest advantages of the internet to homeless people and a growing trend on the internet is online job hunting. Loeb from Fortune says, now just by getting on the internet someone can advertise their resume to many companies, see what jobs are available, set up interviews and find out in depth information on companies of interest. People can also find help on making a resume by downloading samples and online tutorials (Loeb 252).

      Loeb goes on to discus that there is several web pages dedicated to job searches and many newspapers also post their classifieds on the internet. It is also easy to email a resume to companies that may not be listed on the job searches. Another plus with online job hunting is it shows the company that the applicant is web and computer savvy, which can greatly affect their decision. Many of these online job forums require a fee but this is good for some companies looking for professionals because it sorts out most of the nonqualified applicants (Loeb 252).

      With so many online job hunters such as moster.com and many others that are both specific and general for careers it is possible that all jobs classifieds will be done on the net in the future. In all the vast information the internet has to offer there is a lot that is specific to finding a job and keeping it. By just searching the web one can find out everything he/she needs to know about getting a good job they like. All of this is likely to be amplified in the future where all job information and hiring is done over the internet so those who do not have access to the internet may not have access to finding a job.

Online Communication and Communities

      More and more people are using the internet to communicate. Many people regularly send a receive email to their family and friends. Sending and receiving email is just the very basic form of internet communication. Some people now are looking to find friends, join clubs and sometimes even find a spouse.

      I have been on internet mailing list and chat rooms for over 3 years now. Most of the clubs and chat rooms I participate in pertain to automotive themes. I have noticed many people who not only communicate back and forth via email but some that plan meetings and make lasting friendships. I have witnessed many online deaths and have seen many follow up post morning the death even if the writer never actually knew the deceased in person. In chat rooms I notice people always looking for people who live in their area and sometimes asking for others phone numbers.

      This communication trend is not just limited to chat rooms and mailing list. There are also sites dedicated to finding spouses and friends. Some people like meeting people on the internet because they can be a person without a face or sex. Other like it because they can meet so many people with their exact interest. I and some of my friends have meet up with our internet group members outside of the internet in car shows and races and we notice some of the members display a true friendship that would not have been possible without the internet. Even if someone is not looking for friends these online communities can be a great place to gather specific information from other people that one could not find anywhere else.

Online Shopping

      According to Willmott from PC Magazine, online shopping has quickly grown into a major part of the internet. This is especially apparent in last years Christmas holiday that was more then double that of 98's holiday season's online revenue of 3 billion dollars. Internet stores are popping up everywhere battling each other with advertisements, prices, convenience and benefits. Overall they are looking for a sense of loyalty so the customer chooses them over their competition. Shoppers now can go online and search through online shopping malls or use bots to find the best prices available online (Willmott 3).

      Summers discussed in Computer Shopper that shopping bots are taking off on the internet. Shopping bots will search the internet and find the best price on a product giving the shopper more power compared the conventional mall. Many new bots will search the internet for coupons, special offers and some even negotiate while you shop at other stores. One bot that has recently come out is the Shopbot. This bot is a small icon that is on the web browser and when activated it will inform the customer of better deals while they are shopping. Some internet stores feel they are loosing profits because of these bots but others are jumping on the idea. Amazon.com and others will soon release a bot called zBubbles. ZBubbles is another bot that adds an icon to the web browser but this one lights up when researching a product and directs the browser to places where they can purchase this item. All of these bots are making the internet commerce grow in leaps and bounds and giving the consumer more power compared to normal store shopping (Somers 183).

Online Currency

      Online currency has been catching on rapidly in the past few years. The article "Funny Money" predicts that online electronic commerce will be a huge part of the US economy. Radcliff explains that although internet commerce scares many people there are many developments to make online spending more safe (Radcliff 86). Once there is a completely safe means of buying online there is no doubt that the company that finds this means will have great control over the world's commerce ("Funny Money" 74).

      Radcliff goes into further detail explaining that the major problem faced today with online currency and commerce is security. There is going to have to be a company that can supply very secure online buying power and they will be the only ones who can certify online money. One company working on this is SET, Secure Electronic Transactions. SET is now expanding on the now foremost online currency, credit cards, by making them safer to use by adding digital signatures to help authenticate the credit card holder. A great deal of money is being lost on the internet due to consumers reporting credit card fraud. Visa is working with SET to help eliminate this problem but this largely depends on cooperation between vendors and banking systems. Another company mostly working with making credit card usage safer on the internet is Evergreen. Evergreen has helped in online security by linking companies directly with First USA, a bank that deals with 70% of purchases, to help in validating cardholders (Radcliff 86-91). Although credit cards are by far the norm for online buying there are several other ideas that are being worked in to solve these problems and eliminate telephone ordering.

      Currently there are several companies that offer online currencies. "Funny Money" describes one company, DigiCash, who makes "smart cards." Smart cards would work by the customer buying a certain amount of electronic currency and when he/she buys a product special encrypted software would communicate and dispense that specified amount of money to the vendor. One benefit of smart cards over credit cards is that the purchaser remains unanimous. David Chaum, founder of DigiCash, predicts that online anonymity is going to be a growing trend as more consumers buy things online. In the future a true online currency may not be anything more then a written code but there will have to be banks to handle this code ("Funny Money" 74).

      Greenberg explains other online currencies that are already widely used such as Flooz. Although the dominant form of online currency is credit cards, Flooz is taking on a smaller segment by offering online gift certificates. Other online currency ideas such as smart cards have been rejected by Americans in lieu of credit cards, cash and checks. Online currencies such as Flooz hope to overcome this buy offering benefits to those who join to try to get people to visit more online stores. Another smaller form of online currency already in use is iCanBuy. IcanBuy gives parents a way of buying their children online money. Parents can control how much money is spent and what the money is spent on. Yet another up and coming online currency is CyberCash. They hope to use smart card and internet software to turn home computers into bank and shopping interfaces (Greenberg 48).

      With all of these online currency ideas and systems set up it is likely that most of the shopping and banking today will be done online. This would mean that those who do not have access to the internet and these banking and purchasing systems would be at a severe disadvantage. It is likely that there will be several products and services offered only online and not in stores. Those who are not online and do not have access to this purchasing power may not be able to fit into this future society where most business is done online.

Online Stock Trading

      Wyatt explains how online stock trading has been around since the 80s but has finally been taking off since the mid 90s. With such players as E*Trade, Datek, Ameritrade, and Charles Shwab, online trading is starting to become the dominant form of trading. Stock trade fees are less then $15 so it is easy to see why this is a trend that may soon take over when compared to normal brokers who usually charge over $80 (Wyatt 190).

      With stocks trading prices so low and computers more popular then ever, online stock trading has grown in leaps and bounds and is always looking for new improvements. Wyatt writes that currently you can get online, get stock quotes and information, sign up with a firm, submit your payment via check and your account is ready to buy stock (Wyatt 190). One of the new comers in the online brokerage game is Datek. Datek reports that they offers real time stock quotes, under 60 second trade time guarantee, extended hours and $9.99 trading fee (Datek Getting Started).

      Online stock trading will likely replace the standard form of buying stock through a broker. When a standard internet currency is issued, buying stock online will be even easier with the step of mailing in a check obsolete. Wyatt explains that more comprehensive stock information such as online charts, recommendations and other critical data is becoming more easily accessed on the internet and stock trades are becoming more instantaneous. It is easy to see that online brokerage is changing the securities business and soon everyone will be buying and selling stock online (Wyatt 190).

Online All the Time

      Since the internet is growing in importance so rapidly many companies are looking for a way to keep people connected all the time. Some companies now are selling or making wearable computers. Frezza describes that one company that already produces such a device is Research In Motion. They think a simple pager device is the way to go so they provide the BlackBerry, a 5 once pager type computer. The BlackBerry does not use the traditional Windows CE like many palm computers do but rather its own special software. Its LCD screen displays 30 characters and a keyboard used by the operator's thumbs controls the BlackBerry. Its main uses are for email but it can also be used to purchase stock (Frezza 31).

      There are companies taking this a step further by making much more powerful designs. Nobel from PC Week explains, IBM is in the process of building a wearable PC. This PC will interact with the user via a small monitor mounted inches away from the users eye. It also comes with a tiny mouse that is used like a joystick and a keyboard about the size of a person's hand. They are even planning the option of a global positioning system. They expect cost to be more than $5,000 (Nobel 25).

      Moltzen from Computer Reseller News describes another wearable PC that is almost identical to the IBM prototype is the Xybernaut. The major difference between the Xybernaut and the IBM is that the Xybernaut is available now and has been available since 1990 (Moltzen 76). Murray describes another idea that is already being sold, the ViA II from ViA. This computer is slightly different because it uses a wrist worn monitor instead of a headset. This computer is worn via a belt around the users back and can run most things the normal desktop can run. The main use of the ViA currently is in land surveying and warehouses. All of these computers accept the BlackBerry use voice recognition to aid in interaction (Murray 68).

      "BT Unveils New Wearable Computer" brings up another use for wearable PCs and that is for the disabled. Jerry Bowskill a senior research scientist at BT said "We have developed a body-worn computer system that can behave as a remembering aid, accessing and delivering information when you most need it based on where you are and what you are doing" ("BT Unveils New Wearable Computer" 1008250h0224). All of this technological advances in wearable computers will lead to a society more dependent on computers and the internet. Not only do they offer higher productivity for many technical workers and businessmen but also they can help the disabled. With the wearable computer trend catching on it is possible that many will be online all the time. This would separate people between the haves and have-nots of society. The group with the wearable computers would have more information at their fingertips and could use this technology to aid in their work and lives. The group without this technology would suffer even more compared to the people without the internet today.

Conclusion

      Because of all of these advances in the internet and technology it is becoming more and more important for everyone to get online. Increasingly everyday people are becoming more dependent on the internet and with good reason. The internet is changing the way people communicate, do business, find jobs and live their lives. It is possible in the future that the internet will be the dominating force on our lives. It may replace TVs, stockbrokers, newspapers and shopping malls.

      With the internet taking over so much what are people without access going to do? With all the classifieds on the internet it may be impossible to get a job without the internet. With a dominating internet currency on the rise it may be impossible to execute normal transactions without the internet. If everyone is always on the net using wearable PCs with a vast amount of information and processing ability how is someone without access going to compete? If news, entertainment and communication goes toward being exclusively online material how will someone without access know what is going on in the world? In this future world a person without access to the internet will not have a chance of being successful or a chance of living a normal life.


Works Cited

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Frezza, Bill. "Always Connected: A Wearable Computer For the Rest of Us." InternetWeek 31 May. 1999: 31.

"Funny Money." The Economist 10 Sept. 1994: 74.

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Loeb, Masrshall. "Getting Hired by Getting Wired." Fortune 13 Nov. 1995: 252.

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Nobel, Carmen. "PCs as Fashion Accessories." PC Week 3 Jan. 200: 25.

Radcliff, Deborah. "E-Commerce Gets SET." Software Magazine Jun. 1997: 86-91.

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Somers, Asa. "Say Hello to the Future of Commerce." Computer Shopper May. 2000: 183.

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Wyatt, John. "E*Trade: Is This Investing's Future." Fortune 3 Mar. 1997: 190-191.