lecommunications easier travel. A global community has been created in the past 50 years. Using satellite technology and fiber-optics it is possible to communicate instantaneously anywhere in the world, using the Internet it is possible to use visual-telephones with almost no lag and this technology is available to almost everyone.
If there is one field of social change that is on the fast track, then it is the field of technology, specifically computers, telecommunications and the Internet.
There are five recognized generations of the modern computer. The first is from 1945-1956, World War II lead governments to research the potential of computers in strategic combat. A computer development spurred by the war was the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), produced by a partnership between the U.S. government and the University of Pennsylvania. Consisting of 18,000 vacuum tubes, 70,000 resistors and 5 million soldered joints, the computer was such a massive piece of machinery that it consumed 160 kilowatts of
electrical power, enough energy to dim the lights in an entire section of Philadelphia. Developed by John Presper Eckert (1919-1995) and John W. Mauchly (1907-1980), ENIAC, unlike the Colossus and Mark I, was a general-purpose computer that computed at speeds 1,000 times faster than Mark I. First generation computers were characterized by the fact that operating instructions were made-to-order for the specific task for which the computer was to be used.
Second Generation was from 1956-1963, By 1948, the invention of the transistor greatly changed the computer’s development. The transistor replaced the large, cumbersome vacuum tube in televisions, radios and computers. As a result, the size of electronic machinery has been shrinking ever since. The transistor was at work in the computer by 1956. Coupled with early advances in magnetic-core memory, transistors led to second generation computers that were smaller, faster, more reliable and more energy-efficient than their predecessors.
The third generation 1964-1971 saw creation of the quartz rock. This eliminated the problem of transistors overheating and destroying a computer from the inside out. Jack Kilby, an engineer with Texas Instruments,developed the integrated circuit (IC) in 1958. The IC combined three electronic components onto a small silicon disc, which was made from quartz. Scientists later managed to fit even more components on a single chip, called a semiconductor. As a result,
computers became ever smaller as more components were squeezed onto the chip. Another third-generation development included the use of an operating system that allowed machines to run many different programs at once with a central program that monitored and coordinated the computer’s memory.
The fourth generation is 1971-present, after the integrated circuits, the only place to go was down – in size, that is. Large scale integration (LSI) could fit hundreds of components onto one chip. By the 1980’s, very large scale integration (VLSI) squeezed hundreds of thousands of components onto a chip. Ultra-large scale integration (ULSI) increased that number into the millions. The ability to fit so much onto an area about half the size of a U.S. dime helped diminish the size and price of computers. It also increased their power, efficiency and reliability. The Intel 4004 chip, developed in 1971, took the integrated circuit one step further by locating all the components of a computer (central processing unit, memory, and input and output controls) on a minuscule chip.
We are currently living the fifth generation, many advances in the science of computer design and technology are coming together to enable the creation of fifth-generation computers. Two such engineering advances are parallel processing, which replaces von Neumann’s single central processing unit design with a system harnessing the power of many CPUs to work as one. Another advance is superconductor technology, which allows the flow of electricity with little or no resistance, greatly improving the speed of information flow. Computers today have some attributes of fifth generation computers. For example, expert systems assist doctors in making diagnoses by applying the problem-solving steps a doctor might use in assessing a patient’s needs. It will take several more years of development before expert systems are in widespread use.
Webster’s Dictionary defines Telecommunications as “the transmission of words, sounds, images, or data in the form of electronic or electromagnetic signals or impulses.” Transmission media include the telephone (using wire or optical cable), radio, television, microwave, and satellite. Data communication, the fastest growing field of telecommunication, is the process of transmitting data in digital form by wire or radio.
Digital data can be generated directly in a 1/0 binary code by a computer or can be produced from a voice or visual signal by a process called encoding. A data communications network is created by interconnecting a large number of information sources so that data can flow freely among them. The data may consist of a specific item of information, a group of such
items, or computer instructions. Examples include a news item, a bank transaction, a mailing address, a letter, a book, a mailing list, a bank statement, or a computer program. Canada uses the most “interac” or inter-active transactions per capita in the entire world (Adams, p 12, 1998).
Public telecommunication services are a relatively recent development in telecommunications. The four kinds of services are network, information-retrieval, electronic-mail, and bulletin-board services. A public network service leases time on a WAN, thereby providing terminals in other cities with access to a host computer. Examples of such services include Telenet, Tymnet, Uninet, and Datapac. These services sell the computing
power of the host computer to users who cannot or do not wish to invest in the purchase of such equipment. (Jenkins, p 67, 1995)
An information-retrieval service leases time on a host computer to customers whose terminals are used to retrieve data from the host. An example of this is CompuServe, whose host computer is accessed by means of the public telephone system. This and other such services provide general-purpose information on news, weather, sports, finances, and shopping. Other information-retrieval services may be more specialized. For example, Dow Jones News Retrieval Services provide general-purpose information on financial news and quotations, corporate-earning estimates, company disclosures, weekly economic survey updates, and Wall Street Journal highlights. Newsnet provides information from about 200 newsletters in 30 different industries; Dialog Information Services, BRS Bibliographic Retrieval Services, and Orbit Information Retrieval Services provide library information; and Westlaw provides legal information to its users. See Database (Jenkins, p 45, 1995)
By means of electronic mail, terminals transmit documents such as letters, reports, and telexes to other computers or terminals. To gain access to these services, most terminals use a public network. Source Mail (available through The Source) and EMAIL (available through CompuServe) enable terminals to transmit documents to a host computer. The documents can then be retrieved by other terminals. MCI Mail Service and the U.S. Postal ECOM Service (also available through The Source) let terminals transmit documents to a computer in another city. The service then prints the documents and delivers them as hard copy. ITT Timetran, RCA Global Communications, and Western Union Easylink let terminals send telexes to other cities
(Philipson, p 45, 1992).
All of this enables not only the fast transfer of messages and money, but also the transfer of ideologies and paradigms of thought. This helps spread cultures that may have been isolated and as a side-effect creates enculturation. The countries that use computer and telecommunications the most are The United States, Japan, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom (Adams, p 69, 1998). This is shown in the assimilation of cultures from all across the world. Some examples of this include, Japanimation anime, Poke’mon, Canadian Television being viewed around the world (Much Music, Degrassi Jr. High) and the british Tele-Tubbies. These are examples of fads and social movements from other countries that have been assimilated almost universally. This global community and change can be seen on the Internet.
The popularity of this new phenomenon is rising rapidly, almost beyond belief. In January 1994 there were an estimated 2 million computers linked to the Internet. However, this is nothing compared to the number from last year’s statistics. At the end of 1995, 10 million computers with 40-50 million users were assumed to be connected to the network-of-networks.
If it goes on like this, most personal computers will be wired to the network at the end of this century (Internet Society 1996). The Internet is phenomenal in many ways. One of them is that it connects people from different nations and cultures. The network enables them to communicate, exchange opinions and gain information from one another. As each country has its
own national language, in order to communicate and make themselves understood in this multilingual environment the huge number Internet users need to share a knowledge of one particular language, a language that would function as a lingua franca. On the Internet, for various reasons, the lingua franca is English.
Because of the large number of countries into which the Internet has spread and which bring with them a considerable variety of languages English, for its status of a global language, has become a necessary communication medium on the Internet. What is more, the position of English as the language of the network is strengthened by the explosive growth of the computer web as great numbers of new users are connecting to it every day.
Internet, in computer science, an open interconnection of networks that enables connected computers to communicate directly. There is a global, public Internet and many smaller-scale, Controlled-Access Internet or CAI, known as Enterprise Internet. In early 1995 more than 50,000 networks and 5 million computers were connected via the Internet, with a computer growth rate of about 9 percent per month.
The Internet technology was developed principally by American computer scientist Vinton Cerf in 1973 as part of a United States Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) project managed by American engineer Robert Kahn. In 1984 the development of the technology and the running of the network were turned over to the
private sector and to government research and scientific agencies for further development.
Since its inception, the Internet has continued to grow rapidly. In early 1995, access was available in 180 countries and there were more than 30 million users. It is expected that 100 million computers will be connected via the public Internet by 2000, and even more via enterprise internets. The technology and the Internet have supported global collaboration among people and organizations, information sharing, network innovations, and rapid business transactions. The development of the World Wide Web is fueling the introduction of new business tools and uses that may lead to billions of dollars worth of business transactions on the Internet in the future.
In the Internet nowadays, the majority of computers are from the commercial sphere (Vrabec 1996). In fact, the commercialization of the network, which has been taking place during the last three or four years, has caused the recent boom of the network, of the WWW service in particular (Vrabec 1996). It all started in the network’s homeland in 1986, when ARPANET was gradually replaced by a newer and technologically better built network called NSFNET. This network was more open to private and commercial organisations (Vrabec 1996) which, realising the potential of the possible commercial use of the Internet, started to connect themselves to the network.
There are several possibilities how commercial organisations can benefit from their connection to the English-speaking Internet. Internet users are supposed to be able to speak and understand English, and actually most of them do. With the rapidly rising number of users, the network is a potential world market (Vrabec 1996) and English will be its important tool. The status of English as a world language, or rather its large number of people who are able to process and use information in English, already enables commercial organizations to present themselves, their work and their products on the Internet. Thanks to English and the Internet companies can correspond with their partners abroad, respond to any question or give advice on any problem that their international customers can have with their products almost immediately (Vrabec 1996). Considering the fact that many of the biggest, economically strongest and influential organizations are from the United States of America or other native English speaking countries, the commercialization has very much reinforced the use of English on the Internet.
Since language is the root of any culture and it effects thought patterns or produces ideologies, then the global use of English as the language of technology impacts all other cultures that have access to the Internet.
First computers, then telecommunications and now the Internet brings all countries and cultures together in a new mosaic. The global community is multi-cultural, yet almost all the cultures communicate in English. Less than 8% of current web-pages and browsers on the Internet use another language (Bouvier, 1999) and even then, English is the main language of websites. Eventually the cultures will blend together to create a melting pot, much like in the United States, where one culture is dominant and all others become assimilated into it. This example is fitting, because the culture of the new millennium will be the western culture or more specifically the capitalistic culture of North America.
One of the main purposes of the Internet along with communication is business. This capitalistic drive can be seen everywhere on the web, on banners, gambling on the Internet, pay for porn sites and on-line shopping. The Nasdaq stock-market has increased 1000% since its creation a little over ten years ago. With the power of business behind it and the dominant culture of North America flowing through it any other culture or group dealing with the Internet must at least communicate and use words not of their own creation. The ideologies and thought paradigms are all created by those in control and those in control are for the most part all English speaking North Americans.
Unless other sources from other cultures become infused in the World Wide Web, which is doubtful considering the monopoly Microsoft and the other top ten grossing North American, computer related business have on the technology related fields, the mass culture assimilation will continue as the world gets smaller and global community gets larger. It only be those countries that will be isolated for economic reasons that will maintain their own sense of identity and culture.
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