Computers and Culture

Computers and their role in human life have changed drastically since the 1950s. If 60 years ago computers did not play an important role in society, these day computers play a significant role in our lives. Initially, computers were big and awkward machines that were used just for keeping information and calculations. Throughout the last 50 years computers have become much smaller and much more sophisticated. If first computers were so large that they could occupy a single room, modern computers can be as small as a cell phone.

Also, computing abilities magnified and in 1970s computers were able to help both in office and at home (Odin). Even though computers were very expensive at that time, many middle class families could afford to have one at home. Therefore, the personal computer industry started in the 1970s. J. Odin, a professor of University of Hawaii at Manoa, writes: “With the development of Random Access Memory (RAM) and invention of microprocessors, the personal computer industry took off in the seventies” (Odin).

The idea that computers could be used not only by scientists, but also by common people appealed to many in 1970s and 1980s. When personal computers gained popularity in the 1980s, they were mostly used as word processors. There were no any networks and the Internet was yet to be born. In the 1990s computers became involved in the field of knowledge making. J. Odin writes: b ”The effective interaction that today’s computers allow makes it possible for the user to switch back and forth among various roles of creator, transformer, communicator as well as receiver of knowledge” (Odin).

With the arriving of the Internet computer became not only an essential tool for keeping, transforming and exchanging information, but an artificial intellect able to solve complex problems. When in the 1990s Garry Kasparov, a World Chess Champion, was defeated by a computer, it was obvious that computers had developed to the point where they could challenge human’s intellect (Odin). The role of the Internet in today’s society and culture is very important. Today we can say with confidence that the Internet has revolutionized the world of culture and education.

These days there is a social and cultural gap between those who have access to the Internet, and those who do not (Odin). To understand the magnitude of the impact of the Internet on culture and education, it is necessary to realize that the Internet is a global event. The Internet provides many opportunities for its users and gives them a great advantage over the people who do not use it (Comer 14). People in developed countries have more opportunities to exchange information, communicate with others and get news (Cass 56).

On the other hand, in places like North Korea, where ordinary people cannot buy computers and use the Internet, people are cut off from information, international communication and modern education (Carr 30). The Internet is a new and effective way to represent culture in the media. But there is something more. Nicholas Carr, an American writer, writes in his book: “The Internet is not just one of many ways to store and broadcast cultural experience; it is a way of organizing the cultural content, which makes a significant change in the architecture of the culture itself. ”

As computers play an important role in all fields ranging from business, scientific research, entertainment industry, journalistic media to academic institutions, new modes of communication as well as expression become a part of everyday life. People turn to online resources for information, communication and entertainment. The networked computers are changing our lives in many ways. We create virtual clubs and communities, discuss many issues on online forums, and communicate with people from different countries. We do business, banking and many other things with the help of computers which have become a part of our culture.

I think older people can better understand how computers have changed our life and culture. If a few decades ago it was much more difficult to communicate with people living abroad, these days it takes minutes or even seconds to get news from your friends and relatives who live on the other side of the globe. Nowadays we use Skype, email and mobile technologies that allow us to communicate any time in any place. Therefore, we can communicate with much more people and get much more information in the 21st century. In Canada computers and the Internet have become an indispensable part of our culture.

We interact with them at home, at college and at work. Many people cannot imagine their life without computers. Although computers have become very important these days, some scientists raise concerns that many people become addicted to computer games and social networking sites. These days millions of people prefer sitti ng in front of the computer screen to doing physical activities (Odin). Sedentary lifestyle may lead to obesity and other health problems. Moreover, some researchers claim that many mental diseases can be caused by computer addiction.

They point to the fact that many people choose online communication instead of face to face meetings. Therefore, today social and people skills of many people leave much to be desired. In short, computer technologies have brought some problems in our lives. To summarize, computers have changed our life and culture drastically. They play a significant role in communication, education, science and many other fields. Computers have become a part of everyday life. They have made our life easier and more comfortable. However, we should not underestimate the problems computers have brought in our lives.