The Internet and its Impact on Society

A compelling story about love and despair

Pre-University Paper, 2010

19 Pages, Grade: 1,7




I. Prologue
1. The point of view of a common Internet user
2. The many faces of culture

II. Inventing the Internet
1. The creation of ARPANET
2. The grassroots movements
3. The World Wide Web

III.Becoming part of the community
1. The virtual society
2. The catalyst for globalization
3. The dark side of the Net

IV. The Internet and everyday life
1. The conflict between virtual and real life
2. The example ofNetville
3. The statistical inconsistency

V. Epilogue
Technical glossary
Declaration of authorship


Injust ca. 15 years, the Internet has established a firm connection to almost everybody's life. And thanks to the freedom of speech and human nature, the differences in opinions are inevitable. But how boring would be the world if everyone had the same view. Especially on something revolutionary as the World Wide Web, the well of endless opportunities. For some it's frightening, for some it's essential, but what is it for you? That is for you to find out, but maybe I can give you some insight. Of course, it is out of the question that one can cover all of the topics concerning this matter, even less undertaking the attempt to read it.

Many tried the impossible and many failed, but I will try anyway! So, for your sake and for the sake of my graduation, I will pass my knowledge to you, the reader, but in reasonable bits and not without loosening up the usually humorless text. I want you to imagine this text as one of your favorite stories, not as an academic paper. Acquiring all of the information is unnecessary, but what you need to know will flow in your head nicely if it is decoratively wrapped up. Nevertheless, since time is money (and I have neither) I now clear the stage and open the curtains for the famed Internet! Sit back, and enjoy the show.

I. Prologue

I woke up feeling all warm and fuzzy. I pried the cat off my face and stood up. I didn't even bother putting my clothes on, because where I was going I didn't need them. My destination? The Internet. My entry ticket: the machine purring next door. I couldn't wait to check my mails on Gmail, read new posts on the forum, chat with my buddies on ICQ, download the latest music via BitTorrent (but psst!) andjust relax by aimlessly browsing through the Net.

I'm now in front of my beautiful 19” monitor and injust a few seconds my browser will pop up and show me a wonderful and ever changing landscape of infinite wisdom. I wonder what I would have done if it had never been invented. How my life would have changed. How everybody's life would have changed. I mean, the appearance of the WWW certainly had its impact on society and culture. But what is culture anyway? I remember reading a book concerning this topic. “'Culture' is an exceptionally complex term.”[1], it stated without exaggeration. Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn, two American anthropologists, brought out “no less than fourteen definitions”[2] of culture in their discussions. But I guess that's what makes it interesting.

Another fellow named John Thompson commented on a couple of German studies which, according to him, describe culture as “the process of developing and ennobling the human faculties, a process facilitated by the assimilation of works of scholarship and art and linked to the progressive character of the modern era”[3]. I still don't understand why those social theorists refuse to speak in plain English. It wouldn't hurt if mere mortals could understand what they are talking about.

Anyway, the rather unknown anthropologist (I say unknown since he doesn't even have his own page on Wikipedia) Gustav Klemm had the “the idea that culture progresses in stages.”[4] This idea went through countless other theories and ended up as a version by Edward Tyler in the hands of Thompson who, once again, had to summarize it as


follows: “the culture of a group or society is the array ofbeliefs, customs, ideas and values, as well as the material artefacts, objects and instruments, which are acquired by individuals as member of a group or society.”[5] Thank you John, this actually seems reasonable. In a nutshell, culture is everything we own, including ideas and values. There you have it (in case someone is reading my mind right now), the Internet is not just “a medium of disembodied voices”[6], but part of our culture!

Man, I always get so philosophical when I'm thinking about my beloved W3.

It's true, there is no place like the Internet... but it's gone.

II. Inventing the Internet

Every page on the Internet turned into “server not found” madness. How could this be? Roadblock on the Information Superhighway? And then I saw it: The flashing, red light of the LED on my router. It is taunting me, making me painfully aware how fragile the line between being online and offline can be. Oh cruel fate, why do you mock me?

I have to keep cool. All the wires are in place and the software is fully working. Must be a problem with my ISP. I couldjust give them a call, but I am socially disabled to fit my role as a cliché nerd. There has to be an easier way... that's it! Ijust reinvent the Internet!

It can't be too hard, they did it in the 60's already. I merely have to repeat the steps:

First, there was ARPANET, “a computer network set up by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) in September 1969”[7] and grandfather of the Internet. It was the military who was in need of such a thing since the USA got scared of the Soviet Union and their Sputnik.[8] They formed ARPA (in 1958) to keep up with their technology, though I'm sure Charles M. Herzfeld, ARPA's former director, begs to differ. He claims it was purely out of necessity to conduct research on a greater scale.[9] Anyway, ARPA's little offspring, ARPANET, turned out to be a real prodigy, thanks to packet switching, a brand new and promising technology developed by Paul Baran at Rand Corporation and Donald Davis British National Physical Laboratory. The Rand Corporation even proposed building a military communications system which could withstand a nuclear attack (mind the Russians), since it would distribute information between more and geographically dispersed computers, to the Defense Department.[10] But the Pentagon actually disapproved and so ARPANET happened to be a non-military product of a military agency, though I have to say it was in fact IPTO, a branch of ARPA, and later a collaboration with BBN and MIT.[11]


[1] Slevin, The Internet and Society, p.56

[2] Slevin, The Internet and Society, p.56

[3] Slevin, The Internet and Society, p.57

[4] Slevin, The Internet and Society, p.58

[5] Slevin, The Internet and Society, p.58

[6] Slevin, The Internet and Society, p.56

[7] Castells, The Internet Galaxy, p.10

[8] Castells, The Internet Galaxy, p.10


[10] Castells, The Internet Galaxy, p.10

[11] Castells, The Internet Galaxy, p. 10f

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The Internet and its Impact on Society
A compelling story about love and despair
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ISBN (Book)
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internet, impact, society
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Waldemar Riel (Author), 2010, The Internet and its Impact on Society, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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