Podcast #2

Have we reached peak Internet? with speakers Richard Watson, T.L. Uglow, and PJ Vogt.


Key Point #1 Can we get any more connected?

The moment anything happens in the world, you’ll be informed about it, instantly – a celebrity’s death, a plane crash, a terror attack etc. we’ve never been this connected to world events. How will things change in the future? A century ago, it would be impossible to envisage the development of the Internet. Who knows what technologies will be developed in the following century. Some people believe one day we’ll be able to download the dreams of our loved ones and explore them with our own bodies. Perhaps such a technology could be used as a therapy to treat psychological issues. I saw a film about that once called Paprika by Japanese director Satoshi Kon.

Key Point #2 Are we too connected?

In some cases, definitely. I am way too addicted to the Internet, I make no bones about that. One of the speakers of this podcast proposed there be one day of the week where the Internet is shut down. I’d go mad! But perhaps it would do me good. Sometimes I get a headache because I’m on this tablet too much. Whenever I’m outside, you always see people with their faces buried inside their smartphones. The Internet is a wonderful resource, but some of us abuse its usefulness. I read a couple disturbing reports from South Korea, a country known for its cutting edge technology and super fast broadband speed. They have these increedibly popular PC cafés littered all over the country that are especially popular with teenage boys and young men who come to play RPGs. There have been a few tragedies at these places, such as one man who played and played, and never took a break, until finally he starved to death. With regard to the Internet being shut down, in these South Korean PC Cafés, a law was inrroduced in which people of a certain age couldn’t access the net after 11pm.

Key Point #3: Is the Internet improving us as human beings? Is it making the world a better place?

In some aspects it isn’t. To give one example, whenever you go out, you can’t fail to spot people with their heads buried inside their smartphones or tablets. What is this doing to the level of conversational and overall social skills of the general public? I still enjoy sending snail mail, old fashioned letters etc. which is of course a relic now. Nowadays the English language has been overtaken by texting – “how r u?” “Im gd”… shudder.

But still the good of the Internet outweighs the bad, for me. As someone who enjoys reading and writing, the ability to find books right up my alley just by performing a search is brilliant. And with Kindle and other e-Readers, to me what’s great about these is how accessable it makes reading for the average bookworm. Just download and the book is right there at your fingertips.

What I said about texting is too simplistic though (or complete nonsense)… it occurs to me now that there’s programs such as Skype which millions of people use, and many people have met online and later got married. I actually know a couple, a man from England and a lady from Finland, who met on a football forum, as unlikely as that sounds, and later they would form a relationship.

There’s many courses available for people to do online as well. With the sheer amount of information available to people today, is the average citizen being kept more informed compared to those of years past?

Key Point #4: Will the Internet ever run out of content?

The nature of the world as it is, no certainly not. On the Internet you can find everything – people blogging about food, beer, literature, movies etc. and as the Internet is so connected to these experiences, it’s hard to imagine the Internet falling into a heap anytime soon. Saying that, in some societies, like in North Korea, there is hardly any Internet presence at all, but of course these are exceptions – in the future, like far in the future (centuries), how will some countries have developed, for the better or the worse? What stance will their respective governments take on the Internet? Perhaps some governments will view the Internet – as it is in the future, however it develops – as a threat, and take the appropriate steps in their eyes. And who knows, maybe they’ll be right. The Internet of the future may be a dangerous place, a playground for cyber criminals.

Key Point #5: Will Podcasts disrupt radio like blogs have disrupted newspapers?

With podcasts, people have the ability to download the content of their choosing and listen to it whenever they want, which is naturally a great appeal. Perhaps mainstream radio attracts a different kind of audience nowadays, people coming home from work, listening to the radio in their cars, maybe tuning in to some easy listening station. But the fact podcasting is no longer obscure and has been a mainstream thing for some years certainly spells danger signs for the future of radio. Radio stations are now producing content exclusively for podcasts in mind. Ratings for these programs are extremely impressive also, some numbering in the millions of listeners.

One obstacle, in Australia anyway, could be the slow Internet speeds inherent in this country – while in other places like the USA people can easily download the high quality 140MB podcasts, many Australian users opt to stream some shows.