Since the emergence of the Internet in the 1990s, it has evolved from being a simple means to communicate via e-mail, chat (IRC: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IRC), and retrieve information. It has since evolved into something that is now part of almost everybody’s lives. Having lived through that evolution, how I use the Internet has evolved as well. I went from simply using it as a tool for downloading device drivers (via FTP: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ftp) to using it for my day to day activities! Here’s a breakdown of how I use the Internet today:
- E-mail–for keeping in touch with people and receiving various notifications
- News–why subscribe when you can get them free on the Internet
- Social networking–I keep in touch with friends and family this way
- Watch TV shows–goodbye to cable TV
- Watch movies–goodbye to cable TV
- Pay bills–I save a lot of first class mail postage by paying online
- Download software–I try before I buy
- Banking–no more lines or waiting in lines, I bank online
- Investing–I buy and sell stocks and maintain my 401K this way
- Real Estate–look for and research properties at the comfort of your home office
- Dictionary–no more hard copy dictionaries, I just look up word meanings online
- People finder–find long lost friends or high school buddies
- Video/slideshow creation–create videos and slides shows with ease
- Picture/video storage–save and access pictures and videos
- Shopping–shop, compare, and buy stuff online
- Earn passive income–many ways and many places online to do this
- Personal blog–I express my opinion and interests through my personal blog
- Photo development–everything is digital, including the process of getting photos developed
- Business presence–people look to the Internet to find out about businesses
- Maintain professional connections–professionally network online
- Job search–I found my last job through an online search!
- Maps/directions–no need to buy maps; I get directions and maps online
- Navigation–the Internet, in conjunction with GPS technology gets me turn by turn directions
- Listen to music
- Online phonebook–who needs a paper phonebook any more; save trees.
In the second half of the 1990s, I was working for a high tech company called Network General Corporation (http://biz.yahoo.com/ic/14/14226.html). I didn’t start using the Internet there until around 1996, the year its commercialization became more prevalent. At around that time, e-mail, file transfer via FTP, and information access were the biggest use of the Internet.
Fast forward to present…
How I use the Internet has totally evolved. My use of it is completely intertwined with my life and day-to-day activities. Here’s a typical day.
When I wake up in the morning I go for a run. I use one of those things from Nike called Nikeplus. When I finish, I take the little gadget that logs my run and plug it into one of my computer’s USB ports. It uploads my running data to nikerunning.nike.com where my running record is maintained. I’ve also tied that to my facebook account so that a facebook app logs an entry into my profile.
Thereafter I read the latest news through Google News; then check for any new e-mails through Google’s gmail and Yahoo’s e-mail. From there, I go to Facebook for any new messages or postings from relatives, friends, and favorite pages.
On occasions, I have bills due to be paid. For example, my city utility bill can be paid via the Internet. I simply visit the city’s web site, go down to the finance section where one can log in to pay their bill. I’ve saved countless amount of postage by paying my bills this way. Besides, I don’t even have to use a check. Everything can be paid using a credit card! On occasion, when our checking account is low on balance, I would access our other bank accounts and transfer funds. The transfers would occur within one business day. Very convenient, and all that without having to stand in line.
When I have time, during early morning hours or late at night, I do a bit of writing. Since I like to write, I thought that I might as well earn a few bucks while I’m at it. To that end, I write various articles online at sites that pay writers to post short articles on their site. I write for Helium.com, Bukisa.com, infobarrel.com, ehow.com, brighthub.com, hubpages.com, and on my own blog site freetechzone.com. All the money I make there goes to an online account on paypal.com or to my adsense account on google.com. After a certain period of time, I actually collect enough money there to buy stuff online! The good thing about this little gig is that even when I’m not doing anything, my articles earn me money! By the way, sometimes while I write, I connect to pandora.com and listen to some online streaming music. I simply identify a particular artist, and it plays music from that artist and others with similar styles of music.
At work, I sometimes have to visit a site that is several miles away from my office. I use google maps to help me find a route to get there. On my smart phone, I have a built in GPS which uses google maps to show my actual location, the route I’m following, and the estimate of how many more miles before I reach my destination. Because of google maps, I don’t even buy maps anymore. Who needs maps when one can get the entire world’s map through the Internet!
When my wife and I get a chance to relax, we sometimes watch movies or TV episodes. We use to have cable TV, but not anymore. Since 2010, we’ve been cable TV free. We watch movies and TV episodes via the Internet. Hulu.com has many movies and TV programming episodes you can watch for free, and if you have a projector and a big white wall to use as a projection screen, you can have one heck of a big screen to watch movies or TV shows. If you purchase their Hulu Plus offering, you can watch even more recent TV episodes. I’m not sure how it differs with regards to movies though. YouTube.com has also come a long way. They too offer movies (http://www.youtube.com/movies) and TV episodes (http://www.youtube.com/tv). Most recently, we discovered Netflix.com. They too offer streaming video service over the Internet. If you purchase service from them, you can get watch relatively new movies, and TV episodes.
My family run a business. We teach martial arts. Like most business, we too have an online presence. We get leads through this web site. When people look for a Taekwondo school in Stockton, California, (i.e. go to google.com and do a search for “taekwondo stockton ca”) our schools shows up at the very top! I built that web site, and with the help of the Internet we can reach customers that would otherwise miss our street sign.
The last thing I would like to note is that I found my current job though an Internet job search. I used the Internet to make my job search very easy and convenient. Had I not done that, my search would have been limited to news paper clippings, actual business visits, and word of mouth knowledge of openings. Today, you can set alerts that would send you emails telling you of the latest job openings. You don’t have to look for them, as job openings come to you!
With the fast upsurge in smart-phone technology and its integration with applications tied to the Internet within the last 2 years, expect more amazing things to come. As things stand now, the power of the Internet is no longer limited to your desktop. You can be anywhere, and have access to the Internet and everything that can be done through it. Isn’t the Internet and technology amazing?
If you have comments about how you use the Internet in your daily life, please share it here.