The Internet is becoming more and more popular. Its positive and negative aspects have been actively discussed among network users as well as in the mass media. The ‘Webworld’ essay by Kirsten Archer gives a brief and thorough overview of the latest achievements of the modern technology. The essay was written to be presented at a university challenge which was aimed to encourage critical thinking about new technologies. The fact that this article received a distinction should be a good recommendation to anyone interested in the issue. ‘Webworld’ is worth to read by either experienced web-user or a person who has never seen a computer.
At the beginning the author takes a look at the history of the Internet and elementary principles of its functioning. The main idea, which will also reappear later, is that the Internet is decentralised and thus the society only is responsible for anything that happens in the virtual world. A lot of attention is paid to such conveniences of the network as e-mail or newsgroups. The understanding of the nature of World Wide Web is very helpful, especially for an inexperienced reader.
Along with benefits of the net the author also states some negative points. Wide distribution of pornography via the network is known to every user. However, it is impossible to censor the Web. Thus, everybody has to be responsible for the content of Internet pages. Copyright problem is another negative point of the Internet expansion. As the author stresses, any text or image published on the Web can be reproduced many times without statement of intellectual property. Though this problem still does not have a global solution, the author suggests that everybody is responsible for proper use of the network since the Internet cannot be centrally regulated.
One of the best points of the essay is that it is written in an easily readable manner, almost without specific terminology. An inexperienced person or a beginner user of World Wide Web will find here a description of all of the benefits of the Internet – the electronic mailing system, on-line libraries, chat and newsgroups. Another interesting point of the text is the discussion of the new subculture – the ‘web-world’, which, according to the author, has no prejudices between racial groups and different sexes. However, being very optimistic about the Internet the author sometimes uses doubtful argumentation. For instance, she is stating as a fact that many people found their true love using the network. Probably, a sentence like this needs some statistics to be proved.
There is also another suggestion that in the near time it will be possible to remove the language barrier between the American Internet and the rest of the world. At present, translating software is not effective enough to produce a readable text. These programs can be used only for word-to-word translations. Another question is whether the language barrier needs to be removed. Probably after the barrier no longer exists the American culture could easily invade the rest of the world. We can already see the example of such an invasion on TV outside the United States.
Though there are certain drawbacks in the argumentation of the article, the author is critical in general and presents both positive and negative aspects of the Internet. Either for good or for bad, the Internet is progressing and expanding. In modern society it is impossible to avoid using modern technologies like World Wide Web. The text is worth to be read by anyone who is interested in the latest technological achievements.