Here are my predictions about the Future of the Internet in Pakistan in particular. What you thing about this in your part of the world.
Given the rapid growth in the field of computing, one expects that there will be greater interaction between people and the Internet in future. The interaction is already blurring the boundaries between humans and the Internet. And the netizens now have mixed feelings for the future of Internet revolution.
Speedier bandwidth is becoming common (using 56Kbps modems and telephone lines seem painfully slow now) and everyone is expected to have real-time link to everyone. Once this happens, “the concept of who is online and who is offline will melt away,” says Bradley Horowitz, Yahoo’s director of media and desktop search.
As a result, conventional devices and skills are either disappearing or seem to have been put on hold. The Internet is changing the way people work, share knowledge, entertain or socialise.
It is suggested that there will be better and much wider media coverage. No matter what, people will keep making more money from the Internet in a variety of ways: more information in any language (real-time language translation will be available), more and efficient searching and more focused marketing.
On the other hand, new threats are also being introduced. Service disruptions, viruses, security and privacy, the web’s vulnerability and lack of robustness have all become issues of enormous importance as the role of the Internet grows in the global economy and society. Even spam that used to be a minor irritant has become a hazard which can cost heavily.
Monopoly over the control of the Internet, lack of access among a large majority of people, affordability, censorship and levels of education are just a few of the more serious problems.
What is more, in his book The future of the Internet and how to stop it, Zittrain warns of a possible “cyber 9/11”, referring to the Sept 11 attacks. Such an attack, he fears, may prompt governments to curtail the accessibility and openness of today’s Internet, a move that would undermine the creativity — or the generativity — of the network.
The nature of changes taking place due to the advent of Internet is persuading policy-makers to make new regulations with an eye on the virtual developments and how society is adopting them. China’s censorship rules are a recent example.
So what do people think about the future of the Internet? For those who are interested, there is an online interesting time study by Elon University and the Pew Internet and American Life Database.
The research project began more than 10 years ago and so the database is full of predictions made in the early 1990s. The researchers intend to continue the study into the future, to judge the success of predictions. These predictions should be read by everyone since they are not only a meaningful peep into the future but some are also funny and humorous read.
A personal survey of the net-savvies in Pakistan revealed a mixed bag. The general perception is that the users’ base will grow in size, scope and significance, and more concerns will shift from conventional to Internet-based practices. More people and organisations will place their vital interests online.
Some of the responses could have important implications for policy-makers and other stakeholders in our country. According to the survey, the Internet has become a powerful medium for the users to raise and discuss political and social issues and gather public support all over the world. But Pakistan has yet to utilise this medium for such purposes.
“The majority of the population in Pakistan is still not online,” says Prof Hashim Sher Khan. “It will take some time to build an online political platform and culture in this country.”
Spending millions of rupees to take Internet places has not made much difference so far in the country. “Overall, we do not know if it is a useful business investment,” says Mobashir Ahmad, marketing manager in an international company manufacturing cables.
Dr Faraz Ahmad, an educationist thinks: “The Internet is at a turning point and the changes are big enough in nature to warrant huge investments in Pakistan even if we cannot cite any example of huge returns purely from the Internet technologies. We simply cannot remain oblivious to what is happening in the world.”
Beyond Internet service provisions, application service stipulations, grid computing and other shared applications are new ways to meet some or almost all aspects of the Internet needs in Pakistan. IT professor, Zafar Zaidi says, “These concepts have come a long way since they first came on the scene in the late 1990s in the more connected world. The idea of virtual cooperation and application sharing is a solution to many problems in Pakistan. These computing practices will take start in Pakistan soon. They have to.”
Similarly, the concept of telecommuting has been in existence for some time, and the Internet technologies available today are making it possible to practise it more productively. The trend has steadily grown over the past two decades in the world. The local job market, however, has traditionally been tight. “We might see telecommuting trends taking birth in corporate Pakistan in future,” says Prof Zaidi.
“The best use of the Internet can be in the education sector. The integration of Internet in teaching can be very fruitful in a country like Pakistan where education is not affordable for everyone yet.
“In future, students as well as teachers will become meaningfully familiar with the use of the Internet. At least that is one hopes for,” says Hadi Imam.
When asked, Sajida Javed, a housewife and a concerned mother of five said, “I have to monitor what my children do while online. But in ten years they will be grown up and I will not be worried over what they are doing on the Internet.”
As more people discover the power and value of the Internet for commerce, communication and entertainment, the role of the Internet and its challenges will grow in Pakistan. Meanwhile, all stakeholders should build the infrastructure and take extensive confidence-building measures for using the Internet.