Happy Birthday web!



Just came across this article that reminds us we are celebrating 20 years of the world wide web.  To mark the occasion, the authors list 20 ways the web has changed the world, and given an example for each.  I can’t disagree with their choices, but thought I’d have a go at my own, personal list.  Not sure I’ll make it to 20, but here we go…..

Email.  This has transformed my life both in and out of work.  Gone are the days of scribbled notes in pigeon-holes to disseminate information.  Meeting times are reduced because many brief conversations can be dealt with via email.  Down side – colleagues who spend all day cutting and pasting pictures into joke emails and sending them to all (wink, wink).  Serious down side – the vast number of emails received daily that need to be dealt with.  Small price to pay, though for the improved communication, me thinks.  Students email their homework, so less paper is used for printing. On the personal side, I can’t think of anyone I know who doesn’t have an email address.  At least I don’t keep in touch with anyone who doesn’t have an email address.  When I first moved overseas in 1995, I was away from my then boyfriend, now husband, for a year.  He was in the UK, and had email at home (he’s a technogeek).  I was living thousands of miles away in Bogota, and working at a school that had email access on one machine only in the computer lab.  There was no skype, we couldn’t afford too many phone calls, so perhaps this method of communication is to thank, in part, for us still being together.

Banking.  Living overseas and being able to conduct all your banking online is great.  The Finns lead the way here, though.  Several years ago, while living in Helsinki, I didn’t once enter a bank for the entire duration of my contract. 

Shopping. I don’t buy much for myself online, but internet shopping has been a lifesaver when I have forgotten mothers’ day, and scrambled to get interflora to deliver a bouquet in the nick of time.  In May, our amazon account goes into overdrive as my husband buys all the gadgets he needs, and has them delivered and waiting at an address in the UK for when we arrive for our summer hols.

Holidays.  I book virtually (no pun intended) all our holidays over the web.  Flights and accommodation.  No need for travel agents any more.  I do the research about suitable times and layovers.  I hunt for the kind of hotel that would suit my family, and check out the comments on tripadvisor.

News.  I hardly ever pick up a newspaper – certainly haven’t bought one in years.  Occasionally I’ll turn on the TV to CNN or BBC.  Most of my news arrives via the internet.

Information. What do you want to know? I can find out in a few clicks.  No more frustration at trying to remember something – oh, what’s that actor’s name – you know, he was in that other film about life in Africa as well – married to someone famous – it’s on the tip of my tongue.  Just log on. I can remember trawling through the Encyclopedia Britannica from by parents’ bookshelves to get information when I was at school.  The info’s a bit more readily available these days!

Teaching.  How different today because of the internet!  A student asks a question in class, and we can all know the answer in minutes.  I can find pictures and diagrams to illustrate what I want to say – not have to attempt to draw them in a reasonable fashion on the whiteboard.  I can use animations and videos without having to either buy them or book out the VCR.  I can share good sites with colleagues around the world, and they can share back.  I can take courses online for my masters.  I can work for an organization like the IBO without having to go anywhere.

Charity.  For Christmas I buy all my relatives gifts from oxfam unwrapped. The nieces and nephews love getting a goat, or a donkey.  The grown-ups like that they get school dinners or 100 bars of soap.  We ask the folks to do the same for us.  Instead of spending money on gifts no one needs, we give to charity.  I don’t think this would happen without either us living miles apart or the internet.

Blogging.  Admittedly a  new one in recent weeks, but a phenomenon worthy of mention in it’s own right.

What did I miss?


1 Comment

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One response to “Happy Birthday web!

  1. teachermac

    Video and text chatting!
    I saw a student over the break using a video chat called ooVoo. It’s like Skype except that it allows you to do video chat conference calls. She had three groups of friends in three different locations on her computer while she was doing homework! Three students were on a webcam at a school working on a school paper and telling their parents how they were staying up until 2am working on the school paper. The teacher in charge of the school paper was feeling guilty after hearing their stories of staying up so late, but I wonder if ooVoo has anything to do with their crazy hours!!! This goes back to your comment of encouraging the students to take a week-end away from their computers.

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