What is the Internet?
According to the Internet Society1 "the internet is at once a world-wide broadcasting capability, a mechanism for information dissemination, and a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals and their computers without regard for geographic location."
The internet is a giant network of networks that operate around the world on an open standard, empowering anyone to interact, create content, offer services and sell products without need for approval from any central authority. The internet can be seen as the great leveller in modern society, levelling the playing field for anyone who has access to the network.
Indeed, the Internet is perhaps the most revolutionary invention in the modern world since the advent of the printing press. Much has been said and written about the Internet's ability to transform business and the broader economy, spurring innovations. But an equally profound change is also being felt throughout society and culture, where the internet and the world wide web, not to mention social media, are impacting the way we live, work, play and think.
To some people, the Internet is seen as a place of chaos and disorder, a borderless world in which anonymous trolls roam free and vigilante hackers wreak havoc, fracturing social solidarity. To others, the Internet is a positive force for economic and social progress, enabling businesses to grow, facilitating free expression and empowering the man in the street. Whatever people's views are about the internet, there is no denying that the internet has led to dramatic developments in the areas of human interactions, workplace and business practices, and social networking, amongst others.
These developments are changing the traditional dynamics between government and community, between customers and businesses, between staff and employers, between people. As a result, this raises complex issues and questions about cyber culture, online ethics, privacy and security, social digital behaviour and what it means to be a digital citizen.