In the modern world the majority of us are connected to the internet for most of our waking hours, sometimes without even realising it. With the huge number of networked, embedded computers in devices all around our homes and work it can be really hard to disconnect. Even on the move, smartphones, tablets and netbooks give us constant access to updates and information, drastically changing the way we form relationships in the world.
In the home, the growth of streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube has promoted the development of televisions with web access. Advances in game consoles are also moving towards a very online experience offering many other online services alongside networked gaming. This has changed the social implications of the internet in the home, moving the old view of the office computer into the living room and removing some of the social isolation traditionally associated with gaming and computer use.
Scientific development in all areas has also gained hugely from the development of the web, with the increased ability for scientists to collaborate with peers thousands of miles away and also creating the ability to access equipment via remote control.
Astronomers especially have benefited from this, with the need to see specific parts of the night sky given the difference in view from the northern and southern hemispheres. Using remote telescopes helps astronomers avoid the interference commonly associated with built-up areas, which can be very hard to avoid. Naturally things don’t always go to plan, so it’s important to have people on site to be able to fix things, something which caused some issues for the world’s largest astronomical installation: ALMA.
On the move:
Even while travelling, whether for business or pleasure, in all but the most remote corners of the globe we have technology to update friends, family and colleagues on our progress taking away a lot of the strain which can come from missing people. Of course that can be a problem if getting away from everything is your aim and all of this technology has made it more and more popular for people to try and unplug themselves from the web to escape for a time. However, connectivity to the web is so engrained in our society now that really “getting away” is quite a feat! Give it a try some time, it might be harder than you think.