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Talking Point On Air Monday, 1 November, 1999, 12:00 GMT
Internet@30: How is it for you?
Thirty years after the internet began do you believe it has created an information revolution or has it provided more problems than it's solved?

Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air.

Read and listen to a reflection of your comments during the programme

Read what you said before we went on air

Read what you have said since the programme

Your comments since the programme

I went to a business briefing yesterday in the City. The speakers assumed that everyone there had access to the internet. They had a website address for further information which they read out during the meeting, but when someone pointed out that not everyone had access to the internet, they struggled to find a telephone helpline number (one of them remarked ironically that it was on their website).
Tom Reeve , UK

We think the internet can be very useful, because you get access to a lot of information from all over the world (the Global Village) in a rather easy way. On the other hand, a lot of fundamental problems have to be solved: the information overload and the fact that not everybody (eg. in the underdeveloped countries) has equal access to the Web.
Carmen Hesters, Belgium

The web is a very useful too for information search. But it's a long way to go for Africa. Can you imagine that some people in this continent have never ever used a telephone let alone seen the web. I think Africa is being left behind.
Lowani Duku, Lesotho

For me as a student the internet is a very useful work tool. Finding the right information, e.g. for writing a paper, has become a piece of cake. The leisure aspect of the internet however, doesn't attract me that much. There's just too much rubbish you have to take and the waiting times are often long. But in the whole, happy birthday to the internet.
Tim Sterkens, Belgium

The Internet has set us free. There's NOTHING the lunatics of "political correctness" can do about it. Thank God for that!!!!!
Paul Midgley, UK

We think that courses on the internet, are very interesting...Nevertheless, we may not forget the consequences, direct social contacts are slowly disappearing, you don't know your fellow students anymore, lot's of people have medical complaints. Although, the idea that you can meet people from all over the world in a few seconds is wonderful!
As students in Communication sciences we have a lot of opportunities to work with computers, so we get in touch with the internet which gives us a lot of opportunities, and useful information...however sometimes it's hard to stay tuned on the main purposes.
Karen & Christine, Belgium

Vishal from the UK makes a very good point - the 'global village with no censorship' is the REAL significant aspect of the net. It is true that access is mostly in 'developed' countries, but that'll change.
The American government will no doubt try and censor the net, and to exert their influence in Europe as well. I sincerely hope they fail miserably. I don't mind being exploited by advertising and capitalism, I just don't want censorship.
Johnny, Ireland

I have close relatives around the world with whom I keep in contact with through e-mail. I am also able to keep up with the news and conduct research through the Internet. For these advantages I am enormously grateful. Yet while millions around the globe are now hooked up to the Internet, for whatever reason, one could almost imagine a world which George Orwell predicted with TV screens in each home keeping all under constant surveillance. Not a pleasant thought. Let's hope that aspect will never be developed.
Tom Stevens, Australia

I am on my second year at a 100%-based web-based law school. Would never had found the time to go to a "normal law school" given my busy schedule and commitment to my family and work.
Elazar Harel

At least I can do some of my university assignments with the help of the internet.
Ammar Rahim, Pakistan

The full potential of the internet has not been tapped. Like most technological advances most of the benefits are derived by a few people, namely the developed countries. Eventually and (hopefully?) some of these benefits such as cheap telephony rates will pass onto the least developed parts of the world.
G Awuku, USA (ex UK and Ghana)

E-Mail is a great invention allowing people to stay in touch world-wide cheaply. But the Web is mainly populated with sites of which 99% contain no useful information what so ever, another way to waste time in a ever more complicated world.
Patrick Wulliamoz, Ireland

Most of the public benefits from the internet, but Satanism, child pornography and fraud are the actions of a few individuals protected by liberal government administration. The internet, unpoliced, is anarchy, and is wrong, wrong, wrong. The internet is a slime feast. It should be done away with.
Damon Wright, USA

Certainly, the internet, as all emerging technologies, has served to further distinguish the gap between rich and poor people, but I don't believe that it has broadened that gap. In fact, I think it's proven quite to the contrary: the internet has helped to increase communication between all walks of life, around the world. It's a wonderful medium that gives schoolchildren, officials, and educational institutions a chance to share ideas to make the world a better place.
Kristopher C. Baker, United States

Internet is like every other invention, it can be useful and harmful at the same time. It all depends on how we use it.
Elton Chan, Australia

The Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. I belong to a on-line support group which has over 850 members world wide, we can keep in touch with people all over the world which we could not do by phone, expense being the problem.
Linie, one of the Co-founders of the group started this 3/4 years ago when she searched for someone else with the same rare autoimmune liver disease called Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC). A liver transplant is needed when you get to end stage of the disease; there is no cause or cure.
We receive daily digests each day and a web site is dedicated to information about (PBC) and related autoimmune diseases associated with (PBC). A panel of four Doctors also answer questions we put to them by members, links to other sites associated to autoimmune diseases are also listed.
With sharing stories and symptoms with others who understands helps knowing we are not alone anymore.
Doreen Donaldson, Melbourne Australia

I am listening to you online right now and I am very happy to be able to do this. I have contacts all over the world and it is far cheaper than making an international call to speak to them. All I pay is a local call to my internet service provider in SA. Certainly good for relationships and friendships. thanks for a great programme
Alistair Jameson, South Africa

Here I am sitting in my living room listening to Talking Point in Real Audio. Why? Because, here in Vancouver, the Rocky Mountains block out the short-wave signal. The digital signal is so much clearer that I am almost thinking of putting a radio card in my computer. I do a lot of research in my work. Today, I can't imagine not going to the internet first, before going to the traditional research sources. However the Net, my computer, just can't replace the intimate personal tactile nature of real human interaction. The Net has simply become another tool.
Thomas Hall, Canada

I'm a college student in the US who spent 14 years abroad...diplomatic brat. I must disagree with the caller from Silicon valley...yes, the net has become commercial to a great degree, but in the developing world ( I spent 7 years in Africa ) the ability to access information and discuss issues of local relevance with individuals across the globe is vital to development.
The net is a small global village for now, but as things improve, economically, as one can only hope they will, in less developed nations, the commercial side of the net will naturally remain and grow, but not subsume in any way the information transfer and dissemination aspect from which the net arose. Basically, I see the net as a powerful tool for development that offers a step-up to many whose socio-geographic circumstances would not necessarily allow for.
Mark, US

Like all things the internet is a good slave and a bad master. It's here, it's useful, so let's use it.
Richard Bell, UK

As a student, the Internet is the best thing that has ever happened in our day and age. The Internet allows people to voice their opinions and become more educated in many fields. It both generalises our broader knowledge and specialises in our interests.
Jonathan Franklin, Philippines

As a computer and business person, I could not perform my duties at 100% without the internet for technical references, vendor information and customer information. But there is plenty of garbage as well as gold nuggets out there on the Internet.
Bill Prats, USA

The Internet is breaking the stranglehold that exits in the dissemination of information. In South Africa we are all too aware of the biased reporting that has existed against us in the past.
Andrew Grodzki, South Africa

A lot of people are bemoaning the quality of the content of the Internet but it's probably worth pointing out that they're perhaps confusing the World Wide Web with the Internet. The World Wide Web is only a part of the Internet. The rest is made up of email, Usenet news, and other services which are just as important as communication media as the Web.
DJ Adams, England / Germany

What I found most disapointing about the Internet was the level of conversation in the much vaunted chat areas. They left me disillusioned at the general lack of knowledge and intelligence of users. One contributor said something about the Internet being a medium for the intelligent and wealthy 5% of the worlds population, that is not what I found at all, chat areas are mostly cyber pick-up joints.
Brian Edis, UK

As a translator, I use the web in my work and also for "fun". As a postal chess International Master I have played in tournaments with Russians by post - games last approx 3 years. I played in an e-mail match England USSR this summer and we finished our games in just 4 months.
John Jordan, France

Your comments during the programme

I'm sad to see that a thriving medium for radical ideas has become just one huge over-bloated advertising and commerical operation that has lost touch with its roots.
Andy, UK

The Internet gives people all over the world access to information they would not otherwise have. I use it to access newspapers, libraries and museums and also take part in forums and discussions. Even in a place where Internet access is restricted, people with access can easily print out material for those without, which makes it a very useful way to distribute information.
Alan Pan, Singapore

I have worked with the Internet in China for five years and used to believe all the hype about the internet revolution but now have a much more balanced view. There are only 2% of the global population hooked up to the Internet so we have to ask who really benefits from it?
Jeff Smith, USA in China

The Internet is a good communication tools. However, we have not got the means to control its influence to the younger users who believe virtually whatever they are shown in the internet.
Paul Kosasih, Holland

Access is the key issue in Africa. Even if people are able to get to a computer, they don't know how to get the most from the service.The Internet has definitely widened the gap between the rich and the poor.
Mike Jensen, Ethiopia

The benefits tremendously outweigh the shortcomings. Unfortunately, in Africa, the computer is a very expensive item and very few people have access to one, let alone own one.
Robert Seruwagi, Kampala, Uganda

It seems very naive to suggest that secret service and law enforcement agencies are not using all possible tools to investigate what people are doing on Internet and what they have on their computers. Assume that your computer is being snooped. If you don't you are a fool.
Rossen, Netherlands

While a frequent user of Internet and email, I am concerned by the possible reliance on e-mail / chat rooms etc. as a replacement for face to face communication. It would seem almost be too easy to "retire" from "non-virtual" human contact ...
Patricia, France

I met my wife on the Internet last year. I was in the UK and she was in the USA. I think you can be more open on the Internet, there is no posturing involved.
John Brooks, USA (British)

Aside from the benefits, the Internet worries me because it makes it so easy for people to do mischief.
Elizabeth Gender, Germany

I am very thrilled with the Internet success in the developed and the developing world. My question is how about those in parts of the world where they can't get access to the internet? Why are we keeping them ignorant in this new revolution?
Kakwa, USA

The Internet is an international network of computers basd on the current telecommunications system. There are four main uses - the World Wide Web, which allows you to pick up radio and TV stations; email which is just straightforward text communication; newsgroups which are online discussions forums and the fourth is the transferal of computer programms and files from one place to another so you can share photos and data with people across the world.
Internet expert Mike Hales, UK

The Internet is a very good thing providing it is properly regulated. I am in northern Sweden listening to you over the internet, whilst also typing to my girlfriend in Spain, and keeping track of the Rugby World Cup. I also use the net a lot at work; I am research scientist and we exchange information, data, and news over the web by default.
Dr I A Brown, Sweden

I work in technology so I use the Internet to find information I would not have access to without it. But developing countries like Africa, still face problems of access.
Orok Tambe, Yaounge, Cameroon

The Internet has made it easier to communicate with my relatives in England. Although we are more than 13000 km apart, we don't seem so far apart anymore. At school, more course materials are put on the web so that we can have access to them anytime. I find this really convenient, as I always study late into the night. Yet, i find myself turning to the computer more often, and spending less time on other activities such as reading.
Norman , Singapore

There is a general illusion that the Internet contains almost all the knowledge of the modern world and, more importantly, that it is easy, indeed childsplay, to get to it. But for most people not used to critical thinking or to designing good questions, the internet is, I'm afraid, a vast mountain of trivia, much like most other mass media, e.g., television.
Prof Joseph Weizenbaum, Germany

The Internet has the potential to be more affordable than the telephone and thus provide services to part of the world not now well served by telecommunications.
Tom Worthington, Australia

The internet is getting too commercialised. At least half of the sites that I visit have so many adverts that the rest of the site takes to long to load up and view
Eric Cooper, USA

Your comments before the programme

The thing I find most striking is the fact that the Internet has made it so easy to stay in touch. I'm often better informed about things here in Australia than my family back in Holland. Through the net I can even follow live broadcasts of my soccer team playing. So even though I live half way across the world, home couldn't be closer.
Mr Rudy Dubbelboer, Australia

Surely the greatest development in my 73 years. My major regret is that more of my generation are not Online. Also the poorer people of the world are also not. That may be corrected when there is a concerted effort to redistribute discarded PCs when users upgrade. I do think easier access would be more available if the phone rates were reduced as is the case here in the US which allows me as a retiree to spend many hours using this amazing resource. My main fear for the future is government censorship or intimidation by various groups pursuing their own agenda and fearful of ideas conflicting with their own.
Parry Isle, USA

Technically, satelite communications, beginning with television and ending with the Internet in the 1990s, did revolutionize communications. But still only a small percentage of the Earth's population has access to WWW. For instance, 2.5% of Russia's population uses email only and 1.2% uses email and the Internet.
Andrej, Russia

The Internet has opened up new opportunities for many, both on a personal and business level. However, until very recently, usage in the UK has been limited by two factors - the high cost of PCs and telephone calls. All Tony Blair's talk of us being an IT community is nonsence until these problems are addressed.
Ronald Banks, UK Security on the Internet is getting better and as long as you take sensible precautions it has the potential to be a useful tool and communications medium.
Simon Zerafa, UK

Since I first saw a computer around 1970, I searched for an application that inspired me to buy and use one of my own. The Internet has been that application. To all the inventors and innovaters of the Internet, I look foward to your next move.
Danny, Australia

The addition of the Internet into my life has opened up possibilities to communicate and access information. Living in Russia I am able to communicate with family and friends all over the world. As with anything created by man it does contain its drawbacks however the positive aspects far outweigh the negative. The future is wide open.
John Robles, Russia

The Internet is the last frontier not to be censored or controlled by the government but they're trying to take even that away by claiming it creates 'great ' problems.
Morgan, USA

The internet is wonderfull! Case in point: As an American who loves most things British, I am able to keep up with what is happening in the UK with the touch of a button!
Mike Corbin, USA

I think that the Internet is useful for finding out certain types of information - such as that that would be accessible anyway. However most businesses haven't taken the time to offer the maximum that they could on their sites. Indeed many just offer a single page, which gives no real valuable information. The BBC site is a good example of a web site. It is well organised, gives links in appropriate places etc. Most importantly it gives information - most sites do not do this.
Mark Latham, UK

An incedibly powerful and useful tool that, quite frankly, has changed the way I think and work. And, without "blowing smoke ...", the BBC's site, in my opinion, sets the tone. Now, if only we could all find ways to make money at it!
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK

I truly believe that the Internet has been the means of an information revolution. If we look at history carefully, there has never been another invention, which has had such a tremendous impact on the world and on its people. It truly is the origin of what we all call now, the global community. In the split of a second, you can share ideas and opinions with people across the world without any difficulty. Furthermore, the Internet has been an incredible tool with regards to education. This device has allowed millions of people to discover and grasp a variety of ideas, that normally would have been foreign to them. The Internet has opened people's eyes to the universe that we live in. It has opened our eyes to the simple joys and beauties of our world. It has enlightened and educated us, and I truly believe that it is the key tool for bringing us all together in unity.
Anne-Marie Christoffersen-Deb, Canada

The internet, like tv, or the printing press gives anyone who has access to it an ever expanding array of information, disinformation and candy ... all at their fingertips. People know that they >can< find anything out that they want, but generally, they will not, as the intricacies of nuclear physics, neurosurgery or mathematic visualisation are of no interest to them. What a user chooses to spend time on will depend on what sort of interaction they want - more and more eye-candy & product/marketing drives the availability of the internet from research to the mainstream, but it also enables the technical and research fraternities to communicate far better - that can only be a good thing. The Internet has a long way to go, but it will become just another enabling technology - transparent to the user - as is the telephone network now.... be nice if we can get world peace along the way.
Nick, UK

Like with anything else, you have your good points and your bad points. In the USA Mother's Day was a fine idea honouring mothers. But, no sooner did we have Mother's Day, we had the Mother's Day SALE. Same with all of our holidays around the world, somebody is finding a way to cash in. I go back with the internet to the DOS Text days. It was a fun idea. I went to different sites and I liked the feed back I got from other people. But, like with anything else, it has evolved into something else. Though there still are GREAT sites like BBC Online.
Russ, USA

Speaking as one of the 'Net Generation' I believe the Internet to be a 'Good Thing'. I do worry about the Net haves and Net have-nots (or the 'Digital Divide'). I purchase many products on-line as it is easier, quicker, simpler and (important point for poor student) often cheaper. It provides me with a way to talk to family living in various countries, and also to my friends who I no longer see because I'm at Uni. It provides me with a way to find _huge_ amounts of information about virtually anything. I disagree with the notion that the Internet requires censorship. It is terribly easy to discover how to create a bomb - I can ask any of my University friends studying chemistry. I believe censorship starts in the home, it is merely aided by the Internet. Censoring the Internet will not help.
Oliver B. Tupman, UK

The Internet as a whole allows a growing population to communicate in ways not feasible before. Communication without easy censorship by media tycoons and political censorship does mean that there's an awful lot of material that people who are used to traditional media aren't used to seeing. The World Wide Web contains a growing library of useful information, but it also contains greed - advertisements and commercial interests are forever trying to distract the reader. I agree with Paul B that it's getting to be like American TV - lots of it, but the quality of the material is descending with quantity. It's ridiculous to think that nowadays you can't publish your email address on a web page or on newsgroups to invite related feedback without attracting a hundred times more spam than genuine feedback. It all boils down to commercial greed and people trying to look for money in their pockets for the minimum effort.
Simon Hewison, UK

The majority of us weren't around 30 years ago when the Internet began. We only learned of it perhaps four or five years ago. We wouldn't have had the knowledge and skill to use it back when it got started. It was a UNIX, based text-only system back then. The Internet is the most marvellous thing to come along in decades. For the inquiring mind, it provides instant information on almost any subject that one can think of. As one would expect, the commercial sites get in the way of its purpose, the exchange of information; however, one can learn how to bypass the ads, and go to the actual helpful sites. It wasn't designed as a cheap replacement for the post office, but it has evolved as such. I expect people in the future to demand free mail as the responsibility of any government.
Jim Hubbell, Texas

The Internet at 30 reminds me of myself at that tender age: still young, still full of energy, still needing to learn and still struggling with a growing family of dependants. However by the time I reach 60, I guess I will have grown into someone who is older and much wiser, not yet fully learned but too experienced to care anymore while gradually being taken over by younger and more energetic forces. The Internet will probably do likewise.
Neil Ashurst, UK Expat in Ghana

The Internet is the best thing to happen since the discovery of electronics in general. Its potential to bring the world together is huge. It will allow people to express there views in so many ways and who knows possibly help towards a more peaceful world.
Trevor Wilson, UK

The internet is fascinating, but a mixed blessing; it has the potential to create opportunity with the freeing up of information but at the same time the danger of deepening the divide between the haves and have nots is very real. How quickly and just how much worse off will the poor be after the 'haves' begin to integrate the Internet more and more into their culture is yet to be seen. Sadly too it is likely that the Internet will be highly instrumental in the furthering of a homogenic western culture - as if the world needs that! Hopefully the net will be used more and more for good - such as net aid - and this will go towards softening the downside.
Wendy S, UK

I find it really useful being able to search the Internet for information as I am an amateur archaeologist. I can find out about the latest finds on the Net and I have been able to find like-minded people online, with whom I now exchange emails. The one down-side to the Internet is the amount of sites that contain incorrect data. I think I can tell the difference but I think children need to be shown how to "separate the wheat from the chaff"
K Campbell, UK

The Internet is yet another communications tool - it will change our lives and the way we do business, much in the same way the introduction of the telephone did. I'm now starting my own 'traditional' business (selling a product) - I have been able to create the business without leaving home! I've used the internet to find customers, legal advice, info on export laws, advertise, issue press releases, use marketing agencies, find my suppliers, distribution channels, shipping prices, manufacturing tools, government grants, get info on my competitors, patent info... the list is endless. Most importantly, the whole business would not exist if I couldn't capture the niche market which is only viable because I am, talking to the World.
Nadine, UK

The invention of the Internet must be one of the many great invention in this generation. The www has changed so many lives in countries that have limited access to the outside world. Africa is still lagging behind, the price of computers are very expensive for ordinary working Africans. In many African countries computers are seen as a very expensive commodity only rich people can afford. However, a few African business and individuals are enjoying this wonderful machine that make their life so interesting. In Ethiopia we have a small but fast growing number of computers and Internet users . The Internet users are mainly companies and business people who are mostly using the E-mail service. Yes, in my opinion the Iinternet is one of the best inventions of our era.
Seyoum Tessema, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The Internet is a great tool for learning things that would remain a mystery to a lot of people. So it makes me sad to find out how little it is being used in the countries that need education the most eg African countries
Efrem Gebrehiwet, Canada (Eritrean)

The Internet is a communications tool. I use it like the radio or newspapers as both a source of information and a tool to distribute information. The ability to publish with keystrokes and read current information world-wide is the real strength. I can get BBC radio information only late at night here in Southwest Iowa, and other British media could be somewhat expensive. Yet if I want current information from the BBC, it is only a couple of keystrokes away with the Internet. Best of all, I can get directly to the information I want.
Tim Eggers, United States

As a Russian living in the U.S, I value the Internet as my primary source of information--American television and magazines are too narrow. But the Internet still a) does unite enough people--it's scarce in the Third World and b) it doesn't open American's eyes to this world.
Andrej, Russia

I think that the ability to express your views without being filtered by the media barons is a great plus. But ability brings responsibility... The abuse of this ability by people with bad intentions is one of the greatest problems !
Dave Houlton, UK Expat in Belgium

The Internet is probably the tool that will show the people of the world that we are all the same and governments will not be able to bomb other countries as they do now saying that the whole population of that country are evil.. This one ability to have a world village with a free uncensored voice makes any problems the internet brings with it insignificant and it should be allowed to grow with no government intervention.
Vishal Vashisht, UK

While I think that 99.9% of all web pages are complete rubbish, a few are very good. With the abysmal and dire standard of TV news here in the US, pages like are of immense value.
Paul B, UK, currently USA

As a long-term user of the Internet, almost 20 years now, In find it rather amusing how the net and, in particular, the web have been "discovered" in the past few years. When I attend job interviews and they ask how long I've been using the net, many people are amazed or disbelieve me. It's also amusing when you meet so-called web consultants with a couple of months surfing behind them expounding on the merits of e-commerce, e-opportunity and e-dynamics. I think I'll take an e-pill and go lie down for an e-sleep before I blow an e-fuse!

This talking point and other forums are in themselves one of the positive aspects of the Internet. The negative problems associated with the internet will change in time but overall in another thirty years or so, I'd like to think that new generations will have gained some valuable insights into the planet they live on.
Chris C, UK

It was great until about two years ago when business discovered it. Since then, with advertising etc. it has gone downhill fast. It is also getting clogged up with rubbish, and if Alex Bubb relies on what he finds on the net then good luck to him.
Edward Collier, UK

The Internet is a revolution. It has enabled the world to communicate quickly and effectively. Nowadays life would probably be more difficult without the Internet but that's only because we have come to rely upon it. The Internet has defiantly solved more problems then it has caused.
Dr Elliot Carver, UK

You say that "It is very easy for anyone to stumble across anything from pornography or advice on how to make a bomb". I think this is misleading. I admit that both of these items are out there on the internet, they may even be easy to find, but I really don't believe that people find them by accident.
Dave Cross, UK

The Internet has expanded my view of the world and from a local perspective given me quicker and more convenient access to electronic banking, government services and others. I also feel it will be the catalyst for a more democratic and humane world. I vote YES.
Chris Kimlin, Australia

Internet is my hope for a better world. I salute the Netizens of planet Earth
Dimitris Katsouropoulos, Greece

The Internet is the best thing to happen . It will change the world.
Ram, USA

It's in a way just like the step we took when worldwide phones happened. It frightens people who have made a living from guarding information they have no real claim to (eg Travel Agents) but it is also creating a very real divide between "info rich" and "info poor".
David Griffin, UK, currently in Australia

The REAL revolution has been email. Simple, fast, cheap. Distant relatives and friends communicating daily for a penny; no more paper wasted on unnecessary notes stuck up on office boards,...Just when some were proclaiming the death of the art of writing letters, it evolved. Long live the email.
Edward, Cyberspace

What a great format to pick up women! Beats going to the bars and having to drink. Much simpler to connect in a chat room. By the way, the primary purpose of chat rooms if for men and women to meet one another; no other reason whatsoever, unless one is a preteen or a teenager. Also, the net is the best way of doing all kinds of research; a great tool. Like any other tool, one should learn how to use it properly.
Rick Brian, USA

I believe that the Internet is a great research tool. It enables us to obtain information that we might not have had access to before. Unfortunately, the Internet has also created its own set of problems. People can now access more information on different individuals. Unscrupless people can now use e-mail to terrorise adults and children. It is a great medium, but there is no way to ensure peoples privacy.
Amy, USA

The question that comes to mind with technology that appeals to masses, like the Internet, will it alleviate or enforce inequalities between different economies, especially if the 'Internet commerce' becomes a solid reality? In other words, Internet access should be somehow ensured to all countries in the globe in more-or-less equal terms. In the opposite case, in the long run, only the powerful and rich will eventually take advantage of any benefits that come out of it. Wouldn't that lead to a widened gap between rich and poor countries?
Nikos Yagoulis, Greece

Internet has provided impressive powers. It is true that governments are simply not fully sovereign in the world of information and I see this as a triumph for democracy. But the problem remains :How many people on earth can still have access to this wonder technology?
Tajudeen Isiaka, Nigeria

The Internet is a very useful tool in all aspects of life. It's not sexist, racist or separates rich from poor as you can't tell who the person is using this system. It does, however, provide and encourage negative attitudes to sex, race and other important areas that affects all of us. But to police the Internet is to say that we as users are being restricted on what, where and how we can access the Internet. Well my advice is the same as watching/listening to an offensive movie, TV programme or radio station/talk show - if you don't like it, don't use/watch/listen to it!
Jason, UK

The internet's great as it seemingly centralizes a lot of information so that anyone can distribute information and anyone can read it. In fact we potentially don't have to learn stuff anymore because when we do require information we can tap our 'global information store'. Also, we can communicate with anyone in any part of the world. So, if I require something that's in America I can email the American company that holds that something and they can send it to me. Buying stuff over the Internet is really cool too, as I can get books really cheap, so cheap I don't know how the book selling companies are making any money. Okay, so the internet is somewhat like a memory attached to a nervous system reacting to commands from its brain (all the people attached to it, all with contradicting viewpoints and different information). The day the Internet becomes really bad is when too much of the brain part (our control) is given to the computer systems. i.e. Internet based policing, monitoring etc. Check out the guy who's invented roaming security cameras, where can that go?? Do we strive to plant ourselves in an Orwellian dream? or perhaps we become more 'Collective'-like each day...
Daren, UK

I think the Internet has done wonders for bringing people closer around the world in terms of keeping in touch, gathering information as well as being entertained. However, I am particularly worried about the Internet being abused by pornographic or violent materials as these can easily be accessed by minors. Surely governments around the world needs to act together in order to prosecute the providers as well as the users.
Philippe Chan, UK

The Internet is THE innovation of the latter part of the 20th century. It is the greatest democratising power we have for campaigning for freedom of expression and against state censorship be it in China, the UK or any other country where the state tries to control the media.
Paul Hatch, UK

It is very good to get in touch with people, but much more information is available when talking directly to a person. When neighbours hardly know each other, we separate ourselves further by correspondence through video screens.
John Neuman, USA

The price of phone calls in Britain are amongst the highest in the western world. If New Zealand can get unmetered calls why not the UK, simply greed on the part of BT, after all it's good to talk even better to surf.
Neil Henderson, Scotland

The Internet is definitely one of the major technological advancement of this century. It is amazing how it has blossom at the eleventh hour of the century. Let us expect more from the Internet: faster and larger communication. Minor problems of security and delays will be worked out soon. Let us all embrace the INTERNET as we have embraced other communication technologies.
Dr. Joseph U. Igietseme, USA

Cheaper than the phone, quicker then the mail, and more flexible in many ways. I can keep in touch with my family and friends in the UK, exchange information with people from all over the world on usenet, and keep up with world news via the BBC News websites.
Jo Wright, USA (ex UK)

While I agree with Jeff Smith's point about email being a poor alternative to meeting people in person, I do believe that it has evolved into an art form of its own - it is yet another way of communicating ideas to others. As far as the content of the net goes - yes it's an absolute pain trying to find useful information. I remember hearing an anecdote that went something along the lines of 'The Internet is like being in the greatest library in the world, with the lights turned off'. Someone really does need to figure out a way of categorising information properly on the web. As far as good and bad go - the more the Internet evolves, the more it will mirror real life. As with any tool, some will use and some will abuse. I'd just like to point out to all the moralists out there who think the internet is evil and a Bad Thing that if someone finds information on bomb making or pornography or whatever, then they have obviously been looking for it. With the appalling search capabilities on the net, stumbling across that kind of stuff just doesn't happen.
David W, UK

The WWW is useful for debates such this and for electronic communications but it really does need more regulation. If it isn't dealt with carefully in the near future, then we may find that we have created and propagated a monster.
Tom Cetchup, USA

I met my wife online, so I suppose I am biased, but in my opinion that the net may will become the most significant breakthrough in human to human communication since the development of language. For the first time it is possible for ordinary people to talk to ordinary people without the constraints of geographical or political boundaries.
John Brooks, (formerly UK) USA

The Internet is one of mankind's greatest advances. My only worry is that eventually no one will leave their houses and we'll all end up living in cyberspace sort of like in that book Brave New World. Worrying.
Jon Tomaz, USA

The internet and email in particular has enabled me to have everyday contact with my family in the UK while living thousands of miles away. I take family snaps with a digital camera in the morning and have them in my parents hands later the same day. When they sign on the web we can have 15 minutes of 'instant chat' each day. I use the same internet to get news from the BBC, local weather and research what others have written on a host of subjects. Oh yes also take part in lively debates on Talking Point. I try to think what it would be like without the net....I guess I would be a good letter writer and have a huge phone bill. The web makes my everyday life part of my families life back in the UK.
K. Jackson, USA

The Internet is a good tool and very democratic, anyone can have their say. Some may feel it is too empowering for the average jerk, but the elitists are a threatened species, too bad. I'm sure some moguls will attempt to bend the Internet to serve their own interests. Those who wish to impose their worldview onto everyone else, hopefully, have had their day. So what if porno and bomb making advice is available on the net? At least the police with their own access to technology can track it.
Tom, Australia

I love the internet, it truly does bring worlds together. I have met some great people from all over the world, from Australia and New Zealand to Iceland and the UK. I love to find out what's going on in the lives of other 'common' people in other countries and I love to read other countries newspapers on line to see how each country views different things. I like to see how different or how much the same other countries view issues that concern us here in the United States and I also love to read and see how people react and think of my own country. The internet is just awesome.
David Nadeau, USA

This has been the most fundamental development since Steam and has had an equally significant impact on our lives. The mere fact that it is now considered to be indispensable in many industries merely highlights its immense value.
Alex Banks, Wales (UK)

Brilliant, Fantastic, Unsurpassed. All the adjectives can be applied to the Internet. But alas like fast cars needing brakes and some common sense, a horse needing the stirrups and the reins, the dog a leash, internet needs to be tamed, especially for the sensitive younger generation. They can be easily exposed to effects that may look to be the norm and are not. Treat the beast with respect and care and we will see this through. Let it loose and we can forget about the world we want!
Dr Bhogal MD, USA/UK

When ever I come across something in life I don't understand and would like to find more - I look it up on the web. Where else can you find such a huge learning resource?
Alex Bubb, UK

Talking Point itself ably demonstrates the benefits of using the Internet. I assume this debate to have been posted in London and yet I can respond to it from thousands of miles away. Thirty years ago such a debate would have had to have been carried out via the pages of periodicals yet now it can take place instantly.
Andrew Minge, USA

The Internet is destructive. It is an atomisation accelerant - yes, it is easy to communicate to the other side of the world, but e-mail is a poor (pathetic) substitute for face-to-face engagement. Solutions to urgent local and global problems require in-person local and global activism, not electronic cocooning.
Jeff Smith, USA

So mammoth and unwieldy is the internet that if the only way to use the information is to have it sent rather than sought then the answer to your question may be 'good', but, a big BUT. I know no way of getting intelligent answers to information requests from what is in effect a dumb machine. Maybe when we have such interactive intelligence, questioning and answering, all will be well.
T Parker, N. Ireland

I think it is a brilliant invention. Not only do I have news and views at my fingertips but I can also get in touch with my mate Mark without having to leave my bedroom!
Martin Postman, UK

As an Englishman living in the US I find the Internet is a brilliant tool for keeping in touch with what's going on at home generally and also for emailing my sister in Bristol. Direct telephone calls would break the bank and letters would take days but emailing is immediate and cheap.
Mark M Newdick, USA

John Brooks met his wife in cyberspace
Clifford McCormack
Robert Seruwagi
Orok Tambe
Mike Jensen
Jeff Smith
Elizabeth Gender
Alan Pan
Lional Tipman
Mike Hales look into the future
Tajadeen Yagoolis
Mike Hales explains what the Internet is
See also:

14 Oct 99 | Information rich information poor
20 Oct 99 | Science/Nature

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