The internet has revolutionized the way we live in every possible way. We use it for entertainment, to order goods and services, and for interpersonal communication between friends, family, loved ones and business contacts. As these practices are being conducted by means of a computer on an increasingly regular basis, many forms of media and human practices are being eclipsed by or absorbed into the internet.
Some of these things are being made obsolete outright. Compact discs, thought (wrongly) to be the be-all and end-all of indestructible audio-visual recording when they replaced the vinyl record have become obsolete because of all the rampant filesharing, the steady improvement of the quality of MP3 audio and the downloading of MP3 files from servers such as Amazon and I-Tunes. Then again, even when compact discs came onto market, there still were people who preferred the warm sound of a phonograph record, and many people still feel the same way today. Moreover, there still is a collector’s market for vinyl, partly owing to the creative design in LP record packaging through the 1970s i.e. the classic Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers, whose front cover boasted a fully functional zipper or Traffic’s Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys, which was packaged in a parallelogramic sleeve.
Jeff Gross, a blogger on Texxors.com predicted that the internet would put paid to yard sales on account of internet auction sites such as E-Bay. Indeed, auctioning off those valuable baseball cards or comic books on Ebay is more worthwhile than selling them at a yard sale. Whereas somebody might try to talk you down if they see something they like and are a dollar or two short, on E-Bay, people are often given no choice but to raise the price if they want a particular item badly enough. Then again, many people will go to a yard sale or a thrift store just as much for the ambiance as for the treasure hunt.
Gross also predicted that the library would die off with print which very much appears to be on its way out already. For example, instead of using cookbooks, people are getting their recipes through Googling. In fact, fewer people are buying physical books and magazines. Periodicals such as Perfect 10 and the Weekly World News have abandoned printed matter altogether as a stock in trade, and Encyclopædia Britannica ceased production of its sprawling set of books of knowledge in 2010. Many people, myself included, enjoy the feel and smell of a good book – like good wine, it gets better with age. Just like with LP records, there is a healthy collector’s market when it comes to books, and without a doubt many in the twenty-first century still keep sprawling and fastidiously organized collections of first editions. Perhaps this is why secondhand book and/or record stores more often than not come out ahead even now.
Back in the 1990s, AT&T predicted that magazines would become available on CD-ROM and that people would be able to send faxes and hold meetings from the beach. Perhaps the advent of the internet has become a double edged sword particularly where interpersonal relationships and communications technology has been concerned. Since the advent of email, fewer and fewer people write letters and send faxes. When color fax machines were introduced in the early 1990s, it was shortly thereafter eclipsed by email. Since the end of the previous decade, the volume of first class mail has steadily dropped on account of the growing dearth of letters being written, and the revenue forecast for Postal Service for the rest of the 2010s into the 2020s looks grim.
Landline telephones are becoming less and less fashionable as mobile phones and their calling plans become more widespread and less expensive. In fact, between Skype and smartphones, telephone and computing technology has become neatly intertwined. There are also numerous individuals, even in this day and age, who feel that e-mail is impersonal and that social media forces the relinquishment of personal privacy. On the other hand, both platforms provide avenues for shrinking violets to express themselves articulately with freedom and confidence.
It does seem as though internet technology will appropriate many forms of human activity and render others absolutely obsolete. However, being that a great many of these things are being given a new lease on life with cloud computing, it is necessary for certain industries and the concerns within them adapt to the new markets provided by new technology.