The Internet

The Internet has an enormous impact on the American Experience. First, It
encourages the growth of businesses by providing new ways of advertising
products to a large audience, and thus helps companies to publicize their
products. Secondly, It allows more Americans to find out what goes on in other
countries by learning about other cultures and by exchanging their opinions and
ideas with other people worldwide. This may well promote a better global
understanding. Finally, by allowing people to access vast amounts of
information easily, it will change how they make decisions and ultimately also
their lifestyle.

The Internet is a high-speed worldwide computer network which evolved from the
Arpanet. The Arpanet was created by the Pentagon in the late 1969 as a network
for academic and defense researchers. In 1983, the National Science Foundation
took over the management of the Internet. Now the Internet is growing faster
than any other telecommunications system ever built. It is estimated that in
three years, the system will be used by over 100 million people (Cooke 61).

Since the World Wide Web (WWW or W3) became popular through point-and-click
programs that made it easier for non-technical people to use the Internet, over
21,000 businesses and corporations have become accessible through the Internet
(Baig 81). These companies range from corporate giants like IBM, AT&T, Ford and
J.C. Penny, to small law firms. "With the Internet, the whole globe is one
marketplace and the Internet\'s information-rich WWW pages can help companies
reach new customers," says Bill Washburn, former executive director of
Commercial Internet Exchange (Baig 81).

Through the Internet, new opportunities to save money are created for companies.
One of the bigger savings is the cost of transmission. It is estimated that the
administrative cost of trade between companies in the U.S. amounts to $250
billion a year (Liosa 160). Sending an ordinary one-page e-mail message from
New York to California via the Internet costs about a penny and a half, vs. 32
cents for a letter and $2 for a fax (Liosa 158).

Hale & Dorr for example, a Boston based law firm, uses the Internet to its
advantage. If a client company requests a contract for a foreign distributor,
it can send electronic mail over the Internet to a Hale & Dorr computer, where a
draft document will be constructed from the text. A lawyer will then review the
documents and ship them back over the Internet to the client, including a list
of lawyers in the other country (Verity 81).

The ability to process orders quickly has always been an important factor in the
business world, especially for mail-order companies. Traditional methods
however tended to be fairly expensive. On the average it has cost mail-order
companies from $10 to $15 to process a telephone or mail order, says Rodney
Joffe, president of American Computer Group Inc. Over the Internet, this cost
falls to $4, and it is much faster this way, too (Verity 84).

Advertising on the Internet is another way to endorse products. Hyatt Hotels
Corporation for instance advertises its hotels and resorts, and it even offers a
discount for people who say they \'saw it on the net (Verity 81).\'

Hundreds of computer software companies now have their own Internet sites on the
World Wide Web, where customers can get immediate support directly from the
experts or buy and register new software online. Even magazine publishers are
joining the Internet to regularly publish special Internet versions of their
magazines which are read by millions of people worldwide.

The Internet attracts so many companies because they can use it as a tool for
communication, marketing, advertising, sales, and customer support. It is not
only faster and more efficient than using traditional methods, but it is also
cheaper.

The Internet doesn\'t just promote growth of businesses, it also creates new ways
for Americans to get in touch with the rest of the world. It lets people expand
their horizons and learn about different countries and cultures by getting
insight into others people\'s lives across the globe. One of the many ways in
which this can be done is to use Internet Relay Chat (IRC). IRC is a multi-
user chat system, where people worldwide can convene on "channels" (a virtual
place, usually with a topic of conversation) to talk in groups, or privately.
When people talk on IRC, everything they type will instantly be transmitted
around the world to other users who are connected at the time. They can then
type something and respond to each other\'s messages.

Since starting in Finland, IRC has been used in over seventy-five countries
spanning the globe. IRC is networked over much