Pervasiveness of the Internet

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By jbgbbs
January 14, 2002

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Fellow Oracle Fools:

I'm placing this post on the ORCL board because: a.) I didn't really know the best on which to place it and, b.) This is the board where I believe this topic will most likely stimulate some discussion.

I'm pretty much a techie through and through. I have been around computers since ones that had 384K RAM filled half a large room. I jumped on the PC bandwagon back in 1982 with DOS 1.1. I had my first Novell v2.15 network going in my house back in 1992. I've also been making a living using Oracle since 1994 - which happens to be the same year that I first connected to the Internet...

I remember some years back, telling my wife (who is an avid reader) that eventually, libraries will be obsolete due to the Internet. She balked - saying that computers would never take the place of the Library. I said, "OK - you just watch"....

I'm here to tell you what I am seeing now.

Currently, everyone in our family has their own <1 year-old computer, all which are connected to each other and the Internet through our 100MBs Cat-5 network. We have a shared broadband cable connection and are "always on" the Internet.

After the kids got old enough to attend school all day, my wife decided to change her career. She has been a full-time college student majoring in elementary education and is graduating in two weeks. During her first couple of years at college, she always went to the library as her primary source of information, and only rarely would she ask me to look something up on the Internet for her. In her last semester, she did not go to the library once - but spent many hours on the Internet doing research on standards-based education and class management. She's now using the Internet to research the best paying school districts in our area for employment.

Our daughter (13) uses her computer mainly for AOL Instant Messaging, playing downloaded music videos, and schoolwork. She is a young (but professional) dancer and vocalist. We are currently using the "firewire" connection on her PC to capture and digitize some of her video performances. One 3-minute video at high quality is 65MB. On CD quality - about 20MB. We are still learning video editing - but will soon have some clips which we can use for her up-and-coming website.

Our son (10) uses his computer to play Internet games downloaded from Nickelodeon, AOL Instant Messaging (10-year-olds are generally slow typists - so he and some friends use the "audio" feature of AIM - and do Voice over IP) and other CD-based games.

Me, I use the Internet for just about everything. The Fool, Quicken portfolio, downloading quotes and our account balances into Quicken, ESPN Fantasy Football (Champions!), Norton Anti-Virus updates and other driver updates. I even watch the local weather at via videocast. I hardly ever watch television any more - even though about 90 channels come with our cable subscription. I haven't purchased videocams (yet) due to the intrusiveness of them - but I guess it'll be only a matter of time before I feel differently about them.

It was very stormy here today, so I decided to get out our Visa and Discover statements from last year and tally up our Internet purchases for Year 2001. Ready for this? $15,270. What did we spend this on? Four new computers, hardware and software upgrades and various other products - from daffodil bulbs and doll clothes to an authentic New Zealand wool toilet seat cover - for the daughter who has everything :-) ...all purchased with the convenience of not going to the mall.

Please don't get me wrong; we still had many purchases from our local restaurants and shopping malls. It's not like we don't go out - we are just using the Internet more because of the convenience. Also, granted we may not be the "average American family" as far as purchasing power goes, as we are fortunate enough to be able make these significant purchases today.

However, in the future, the cost of the necessary hardware and software (tablet PC's and other appliances), wireless LANs, and high-speed Internet connections will all come down to a point where everyone will be able to afford (and figure out how to use) the Internet. When that happens, those families will be going through the same "Internet growth" pattern that our family has been going through. By then, though, there will be even more content available, which will require even more infrastructure investment.

So, if anyone here thinks that the Internet is no longer a growth vehicle, I would have to disagree. The more we accept the Internet into our lives, the more benefits it brings. News, weather, information, entertainment, multi-directional communication is all available when and how you want it - in the convenience of your own home - or even while you are "on the road". These benefits will drive consumers toward acceptance of the Internet - and again I say "OK. You just watch"....

Fool On!


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