The Long & Short of it.

I could write an ongoing list of the things I love about the Internet. It’s fast, informative, and whilst it isn’t without fault, I know I can always rely on it to be there when I need it ❤

It’s hard for me to imagine living in a world without Internet. Revolutionizing the way we communicate, our behaviour and the speed at which we can perform daily activities, the world we live in is no longer physical, but spaceless and immediate. Bruce Sterling describes the Internet phenomenon, “The Internet’s pace of growth in the early 1990s is spectacular, almost ferocious. It is spreading faster than cellular phones, faster than fax machines. Last year the Internet was growing at a rate of twenty per cent a ‘month’… The Internet is moving out of its original base in military and research institutions, into elementary and high schools, as well as into public libraries and the commercial sector” (1993).

This primary source demonstrates that at the time the Internet was being introduced commercially, it was marvelled at and almost revered. Merely 20 years ago the Internet was an emerging technology, now it’s a necessity that many people would struggle to go a day without. It is impossible to know exactly how many people have access to and use the internet on a daily basis, but sources figures suggest that 30-50% of the worlds population have or continue to use it. This info graphic by the Culture-ist visually demonstrates the spread of the Internet and how people around the world use it.

Interestingly, according to the ‘Culture-ist’, 58% of Internet users utilize online shopping (2013). Being able to purchase goods online now offers a multitude of benefits to not only the customers but also the retailers. Major draw cards that Internet offers to shoppers is the fact that product shelf life is no longer an issue and retailers are not limited by space (the Internet doesn’t have a limited number of shelves for stores to put things on – its very much infinite).

Chris Anderson’s writings on ‘The Long Tail’  demonstrate again how the Internet has played a role in the evolution of shopping and our behaviour as customers. Amongst others, Anderson uses the example of Amazon.com using “algorithm-fueled recommendations” to boost sales. After the success of a book called “Into Thin Air”, buyers were directed to another publication. “Touching the Void”, published first but not gaining popularity until later, ironically now out sells “Into Thin Air” by more than double. It can be derived from Anderson’s work that the Internet has revolutionised sales and especially our exposure to products.

Previously, for example, if you wanted to buy a CD, the range of stock in a few stores would limit what music you could buy and be exposed to. Anderson describes the age of pre-Internet sales as, “an age without enough room to carry everything for everybody. Not enough shelf space for all the CDs, DVDs, and games produced. Not enough screens to show all the available movies. Not enough channels to broadcast all the TV programs, not enough radio waves to play all the music created…” (2004). Now, however, online retail enables a place of infinite space and abundance of stock, to cater for everyone’s needs and wants. Now, online retailers such as iTunes, eBay and Amazon offer personalised recommendations based on products that would be of interest to you. This is Long Tail – a technique that not only effectively sells more products but also exposes customers to niche products (such as music or movies) that they otherwise may never have found in a world without the internet.

It’s a phenomenon that just keeps growing and one that provides benefits to its users on a daily basis. Online shopping, in conjunction with regular retail stores are enhancing our attitudes towards shopping and creating an immediate, limitless world for its users.

I think that’s a really nice thing.  🙂

Sources

Anderson, C. (2004). The Long Tail. Wired. 12.10Sterling, B. (1993) ‘A Short History of the Internet’

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2 thoughts on “The Long & Short of it.

  1. I think everyone agrees with you but for many users I think the Internet has become an obsession. Connectedness is now culturally compulsory for western societies and this means 24/7 availability. Users now have to set boundaries or in the future to be disconnected will make you a social pariah. The users should still have the choice not the sender.

  2. Catering to every niche interest would have to be considered one of the best things about the Internet. Things we thought were lost forever and never available again can often be resurfaced and enjoyed. This is positive for the preservation of films, music, art and books etc and means these things are probably forever available.

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