March 15, 2010 marked the 25th anniversary of the first “dot-com” registration on the Internet. With over 100 million domain registrations and counting, we’ve witnessed an explosion of communication, commerce, idea-sharing, and human connectivity unlike anything else in human history. This truly marks a revolutionary and transformational shift in the way we live, gather information, do commerce, and connect with each other. No domain is unaffected. From societies, governments, communities, businesses to individuals and families, we have all been profoundly impacted by the massive migration to the Internet.
The impact on societies across the globe cannot be understated as the Internet has provided a democratization tool for people to access information in real time across all boundaries. Still, there are some countries battling the policy of free access to the Internet as evidenced recently by China’s confrontation with Google. However, people find a way to get what they thirst for and eventually get around firewalls in ingenious ways.
Who can forget the Twitter-revolution in Iran last year as thousands and thousands of Iranians took to the streets to give voice to their aspirations for legitimacy in their election outcomes? The human voice is deep and relentless. It cannot be suppressed. Our new Internet technology literally gives voice to countless people of all ages, ethnicities, race, gender, religions, political persuasions, rich or poor. People who were previously disenfranchised are now empowered and equipped to express their voice!
Recently, with the cataclysmic disaster in Haiti, donations poured instantly as people used their social networks and texting to pour their generous funds to the people of Haiti. It’s never been easier to click your way to making an instant impact in the lives of people in one’s own neighborhood or to far away neighbors across the globe.
What Do You Predict for the Future of the Internet?
At the 25th Anniversay of .Com Policy Impact Forum in Washington DC on March 16, many prominent leaders from different fields discussed the impact of the dot-com sensation. These leaders shared their excitement along with their concerns for a free-wielding Internet/ technology. They looked through their “crystal ball” to predict what the future would hold with this powerful but challenging medium.
So what are your thoughts? What do you predict is the future of the Internet? Are you better off today being connected 24/7? Are you feeling overwhelmed or do you feel more in charge of your life? Has your productivity increased or decreased? How do you discern the credibility or truth behind all the countless messages, ideas or agendas online? How are you using the Internet to find solutions to your pressing problems? How has the Internet brought you new opportunities or brought you closer to your family, friends, or loved ones?
I encourage you to ask yourself: Where do I need to connect more? Where do I need to simply disconnect to gain better balance and control in my life? I know my grandchildren are already natives to the Internet. I am not. They face many great opportunities if they choose to anchor themselves on guiding principles that will help them determine what is good and what is not, and what is simply distracting or negative on the Internet. Without that anchor they are at risk of being enslaved by forces that will pull them in conflicting directions, leaving them without a principle-centered compass to help them take charge of their own lives.
This is an exciting time with great opportunities for good. I look forward to the future and the promise of people all around the world and their desire for greatness. The Internet can be a powerful tool to fulfill that greatness!
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