Computer Networks. Progress or the End of Society?

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    Nov 22, 2012
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Networks are not a new phenomenon!

We have always had networks of some description or other. Back in the day the old stagecoaches formed a network of travel journeys to get across the USA. The routes became the freeway network. In Great Britain, the Royal Mail set the tone for a network of Post Offices and mail delivery which was copied around the world. International agreements allowed these different mail companies to network together allowing post to be sent from one country to another with ease.. Rail companies sprang up and formed networks that were joined together to allow relatively seamless transport from place to place. They also carried mail.
Scientists in the late 19th and early 20th Century had a network of Universities and research areas that allowed them to collaborate. Tupperware™ had a network of housewives wanting to make an extra buck and socialize away from their husbands and children so they visited each other’s houses and sold the company’s wares. They made new contacts and held more parties and their network grew

Bell invented telephony and started to connect them together, which led to Telex machines in the 50’s and fax machines in the ‘60’s which saw the birth of the modern network.

Originally, computer networks were the domain of the military, and kept very secret indeed. More and more research cash poured into communications research to allow computer networks such as SABRE which allowed airlines to share information without the lengthy process of using paper, to evolve. Air travel was revolutionised.

1969 saw the boom in the thought process with the advent of Arpanet, originally designed to allow academics to share information and studies easily and obviously for Defence to transport information around quickly and securely. By the early 1970’s control needed to be exerted by governments and trade institutes to set common standards, or protocols for computer networks. X.25 networks was released which at the time was a very secure method of networking computers and indeed, is still used by some, primarily banking operations today. This brought about the advent of ATM machines. Remember the time when you had to queue at the bank offices to get cash?

The Internet, which was loosely based on the X.25 PSS network, is now an all pervading collection of computer networks, joined together across the world. Social Inclusion policies in almost every country cite internet access for all, as a priority.

The Internet appears to be entirely anarchic but ‘under the hood’ there are vast management organisations managing addresses, links, security and safety on the Internet. The advent of the World Wide Web from CERN and Tim Berners-Lee allowed the Internet to be enjoyed by ‘mere mortals’, moving it on from the domain of computer scientists, and creating a whole new industry to deploy and manage the systems.

Sadly, as is the case with all great technological advances there is a price to pay.

We live in an age where we are always connected via cell phone, tablet, laptop etc. across the worlds interconnected computer networks. We can’t escape. Even the modern ‘fridges can let you know when you are running out of certain products, or if they are getting near their ‘use-by’ date, by text message or e-mail.

Almost everyone uses the internet nowadays. E-mail is easy and simple and has seriously impacted the Mail Companies. High Street shops were in trouble when out-of-town Malls sprung up. These Malls are now in trouble due to online shopping. You can sit and order your groceries, your books, your furniture, and collect and send mail from a computer or tablet such as the iPad. Goodness, you don’t even need wires nowadays as Wi-Fi allows you to sit in any room and do this. You can even do it on the move, from train stations, garages, airports and coffee shops. Amazon can deliver your daily newspaper to one of their devices without you even knowing it is happening.

You don’t need to ever leave the house!

Figures show that ‘down-time’ from work has decreased significantly in the last ten years. People work all day and then go home and work more because they can. It has become second nature. We don’t devote as much time to our social lives, living them instead through Facebook and Twitter instead of actually going out and meeting up. Thanks to computer networks we can watch TV online, meaning we can catch up later….do we ever?, we can shop on line, so prices in retail outlets are rising to maintain profits and thousands of them are failing. As I write this, Comet, a long established UK based electrical retailers has just announced the closure of 400 outlets at the cost of 6,000 jobs. They cite online shopping as the main reason.

As a technical blogger and writer I love the ubiquity of computer networks. I can write and file from almost anywhere in the world so that you can read it from anywhere else. I can keep in daily touch with my friend in Australia whom I haven;’ actually seen in twelve years,


As a social human being and father of two teenage daughters I sometimes hate the ubiquity of computer networks. We hardly talk anymore. I get more e-mails and texts from my daughters than I do conversation. My wife sends me e-mails so that I can’t claim to have forgotten things.

Has progress taken us backwards?

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Rick Samson loves working out and playing sports. He currently writes articles on Interesting Articles.

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