I write in connection with the Cover Story – “Holes in the Net” (MW June 19) – which commented on the current low use of the Internet by consumers.
I have to say your comments pretty much reflected what a lot of people involved in IT already know, but are very much afraid to say, so praise is due for the article. In terms of public use, the Internet will only become a popular medium when a combination of factors are resolved, including the wider availability of access by digital TV top-boxes, and the creation of user-friendly software to navigate the Web.
However, a point you made on the over-hyping of the Web illustrated a factor within IT which merits further mention here. The proliferation of the PC market has resulted in an industry with virtually no differentiation in its product line-up. A stalled growth curve across Europe has left manufacturers engaged in constant price-cutting. When you consider these two factors, the (undeniable) attractions of the Internet has made everyone in the IT industry talk it up.
But while there is a huge market for the implementation of corporate intranets, along with business-to-business marketing through the Web, the consumer market is bound to stay static as long as manufacturers engage in the release of software that requires technical skills to install and operate. Indeed, I have to side with the observation that the Internet, at least as a vehicle for home shopping, remains a long way off with only a slim chance of becoming a primary shopping method.
There are also other factors that I feel need to be addressed, the main one being the hysterical outbursts of the tabloid press. Last week, a man committed suicide after trawling through a site detailing “101 ways to kill yourself”. The resultant (and rather predictable) column inches devoted to the actions of this person in the Daily Mail proclaimed loudly of the dangerous and anarchic content of the Internet, along with quotes aplenty supporting its view of the need for control over the medium.
I know this is raking over coals, but the fact that the World Wide Web is a free source of information inevitably leads to some abuse of the power of such freedom; the same is true of any type of library. But when the public reads such babble the likelihood of their future use of the Web as a purchasing tool is not high.
The mainstream media is gripped by a notion that the Internet is a playground for the unbalanced of mind. Only when that opinion is changed will we see a real rise in the use of the world’s largest communication system.
Keep up the good work.
PSM Micro Computers