TECH TALK: Changing Times: Net Impact
The impact of the change led by the revolution in communications and attitudes in developing countries like India is dramatic. One has only to think of life a decade ago and compare it with today. Can we imagine a world without email, cellphones or TV channels?
The Internet powers the Change Engine. Writes Frances Cairncross in “The Death of Distance 2.0: How the Communications Revolution Is Changing Our Lives”:
The Internet is, in one sense, merely an enormously efficient way to transport digital data around the world. In another, it is a laboratory for communications in the future.
“There has never been a commercial technology like this in the history of the world, whereby from the minute you adopt it, it forces you to think and act globally,” says Robert Hormats, deputy chairman of Goldman Sachs International. Developing countries will enjoy new freedoms: a way around overpriced international telephone and postal services, for instance, and a short-cut to information that may not be available locally, such as scientific articles and uncensored local news.
Once it has true global reach, the Internet may become the main platform for international contact. It provides a shop window in which a company can display its wares to a world market. It offers a chance for people from different countries to swap information and ideas. It provides the means for people who are cut off from the world by censors and oppressive governments to tell their stories. No other innovation has ever had quite such earth-shrinking potential.
The Internet will be integrated into other products. It will be part of the telephone service, part of the way a television works, part of a games console. It will connect things and people and animals and companies. People will stop thinking of the Internet as a separate entity and be aware only of the services it delivers, not of the network itself.
The next decade holds forth an amazing array of opportunities as communications occupies centre-stage and location becomes irrelevant. Just as India used its time-zone difference with the US and Europe to provide round-the-clock software development and maintenance, we must think about the new opportunities being provided by the concomitant change being brought by communications and attitudes. The world is full of conversations, choices and information. Yet, the one constant which cannot change and which will always be limited is Time.