The Internet is changing and we are changing, too. Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff wrote in their August 17, 2010 article in Wired, “The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet” about the way the Internet is changing from being browser-focused to app-focused. Nicholas Carr writes in his July 2008 article in The Atlantic, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” that use of the Internet is changing the people who use the Internet. Like these writers say, it is not a surprise that when people develop a technology like the Internet, they will change it and that it will also change them.
Without a question, the Internet itself has changed. Ten years ago, most people used the words “Internet” and “World Wide Web” (WWW) to mean the same thing, which was to surf the web on a browser like Netscape or Internet Explorer. Anderson and Wolff write, “Over the past few years, one of the most important shifts in the digital world has been the move from the wide-open Web to semiclosed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display” (2). The change from browsers to other platforms was even predicted in a 1997 article in Wired that viewed the WWW as only one tool among many that would soon be available to users, and that idea has proven to be true (Anderson and Wolff 2). What these authors are talking about is how these days, people are using their iPhones, Skype, Xbox, iPad, and other devices to use very specific software to view movies, play games, read the news, and talk with friends using the Internet but not the WWW to do these activities.
The people who use the Internet, the consumers, are not the only ones changing the way the Internet is used. Anderson and Wolff also show that corporations are influencing the way people use the Internet, writing, “It is the cycle of capitalism. The story of industrial revolutions, after all, is a battle over control. A technology is invented . . . and then someone finds a way to own it, locking out others. It happens every time” (4). However, in this case Anderson and Wolff also claim that consumers agree with corporations on the new way the Internet is being used. Consumers like the apps because it makes things simple for them to do the things they want to do, and corporations like it because people who have money account for more web users and are willing to pay for quality of service (Anderson and Wolff 8). Corporations like the change because it is profitable for them and consumers like it because it is easier for them (Anderson and Wolff 7).
However, Nicholas Carr sees a darker side to the change that is occurring because he believes that the Internet is not always enhancing our mental skills as human beings. As an app is developed to serve any purpose a person can imagine, “The Internet, an immeasurably powerful computing system, is subsuming most of our other intellectual technologies” (Carr 5). It seems make sense that when a new technology is created, not only will the technology be changed to improve as a tool so it will work better, but it will also change people and the way they do things. Carr believes that “what the net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation,” which is not good (2). Yes, technology will change people. However, it seems that for someone as intelligent as Carr, he should be able to find a way to use the Internet without bad effects to the way he thinks.
Both articles write about change. While Carr writes about the bad effects using the Internet is having on our minds, Anderson and Wolff appear to believe that people will be able to to keep up with the changes and influence them as well. To them, the Internet simply presents a new way of doing things we have done before, as they write, “After a long trip, we may be coming home” (12).
Perhaps the Internet is not as dangerous for our minds as Carr believes. After all, people are using wi-fi to download free classic novels to their Kindles from Amazon that they may never have read if the Internet technology was not available. The same consumer may self-publish her book through Amazon and make a profit. The technology of the web is still a changing world, and as we change it, it change us. We have a choice in this as consumers, to use it to make us better or to make us worse. The decision remains ours.