A Disruptive Technology Thomas Edison Would Have Loved: The Internet

“The Internet accounted for $684 billion, or 4.7% of all U.S. economic activity in 2010.” – Boston Consulting Group

image001About 40% of the world’s population is now using the Internet, a far cry from the original .5% in 1995; and the Internet is not just available on PCs and such. It is right there on your phone and other hand-held devices, making its use even wider, and faster. Whether you are looking for information or map locations, or where to have dinner, the Internet is at your beck and call 24/7/365. How did we ever survive without it? When was the last time you or your family went to or called the local Library for information?

You can learn more about the Internet’s history from the references below [Editor’s Deep Dive]. Check out the growth in Internet users in the chart here.

1995 – 16 million users
2000 – 351 million users
2005 – 1,018 million users
2010 – 2,267 million users
2013 – 2,749 million users

Think of the changes wrought in the last 18 years. Our entire way of doing business has been completely shifted from brick and mortar stores to electronic transactions, with shipping right to your front door. Our schools are racing to keep up with this technology as they teach students the 21st century skills they will need to survive in a global economy. The new mantra in the schools is STEM-Science, Technology, Engineering and Math; with a heavy dose of team work, computer skills, hands-on projects, and open-ended problem solving—all preceded with a researching of important topical aspects of their projects via the Internet.

Colleges routinely assign and gather student work projects via the Internet through academic electronic portals at each school. Students even do projects in teams with other students from all over the globe. Now we have the possibility of a great leveling of the collegiate field through Internet delivered MOOCS- Massive Open, On-Line Courses. Students all over the globe would be able to attend college from their local sites using advanced electronic software. Think how this could affect the world. What a way to reduce high collegiate tuition costs!

“Each Internet job supports approximately 1.54 additional jobs elsewhere in the economy, or roughly 2 percent of employed Americans.” -Harvard Business Review

Corporations do all their work via the Internet now, including the administration of benefits for employees. It is no longer what you own as a company that is important, but rather what you know; and how fast you can do something strategic in the marketplace with it. The Internet is the enabler for doing business-fast and efficiently. A company is only as good as the computer analysis skills of its employees.; and its ability to gather and analyze information from all over the world.

The First Computer-ENIAC [ca. 1940s]

The First Computer-ENIAC [ca. 1940s]

Sure, along with any technology comes tough choices and problems that must be dealt with. In this case we have identity theft, electronic espionage, hacking, terrorist use of the Internet, scams, and other problems such as spying on citizens. However, most would agree the benefits of the Internet, and its spread to other portable devices have been a tremendous benefit to our society. We have come a long way since the first computers, and what we are now able to do with the many “Apps” available to us.

Think about the many governmental changes witnessed in overseas countries in the last few years. Much of this has been fueled by the ability for almost instant communications, showing oppression and abuse at the hands of corrupt regimes. Evil is having a harder time lurking in the shadows and this is a good thing.

Thomas Edison literally worshipped the gathering and analysis of scientific and technological data. It was a compelling reason for locating his business office in his company library, for here he could have the world’s information at his fingertips. Imagine what he could have done in this day and age with the incredible access to information we have!

Editor’s Deep Dive

Thomas Edison on Time MagazineThomas Edison said … “I always invented to obtain money to go on inventing.”

Time® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

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