Online Communication: Linking Technology, Identity, and Culture

By Andrew F. Wood; Matthew J. Smith | Go to book overview

PART III
INTERNET CULTURE AND CRITIQUE

The effects of the Internet might be easier to ignore if they only affected the worlds that exist online. However, that is not the case. In August 2003, a dark side of online communication reminded us of the powers of this medium to affect “real life, when variants of an Internet worm slowed or disabled computer networks at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the U. S. Senate, CBS in New York, and home offices across the nation (Krebs, 2003). The worm worked by installing itself in computers with weak firewalls or outdated security patches and using these compromised nodes to copy itself elsewhere. The result was an estimated $300 million in lost productivity and countless hours of frustration for workers worldwide. Add to that the innumerable viruses that course through the computer networks (some appearing to come from reputable companies asking you to install “antivirus” software) and suddenly the arcane codes and protocols of online communication become important to us all.

The economic costs of Internet worms and viruses offer one manifestation of the effects the Internet has on businesses and cultures around the world. The introduction of this technology has meant that we have had to adapt to new economic, political, and cultural challenges. In many instances, these challenges have also presented opportunities to question traditional assumptions about the way we as a society conduct ourselves. This third and final part of the book examines how we have adapted to the presence of the Internet as a factor in our lives and further suggests how people have critiqued those adaptations. Some of the issues raised herein are at the very core of what it means to function as interdependent people, especially now that our interdependence has expanded to a global scale. Yet as the next four chapters demonstrate, in our quest to cope with our complex new communication technologies, we have a long way to go before we understand the implications of online communication.


REFERENCES

Krebs, B. (2003, August 14). FBI looks for source of internet infection. Washington Post, p. E01.

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