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So, where exactly, in time, are you right now ... and what are you really doing?

Looking closer at exactly what it is you are doing right now is what this BLOG is all about ...

Right now you are in a "space" that you have created by linking your computer to this web site, somewhere "out there" on the web. Everyone goes "out there" all the time, but what we are going to look at here is what's really going on when YOU are "out there." That's what this BLOG will be examining on an on-going basis, from several perspectives.

When you think about it, the Internet - the web - is this place we all inhabit at various points throughout each day. Many people spend way too much time out here, but we'll come back to that a little further on. If you don't think you're addicted to going "out there" on the web, just try and go a day or two without accessing the Internet - at home AND at work. Let's look first at the basics of just what this place and "space" is out here ... that should help put into perspective what it means.

The Internet now pretty much ties everything together, all thought interconnected grids. Each web site is a series of pages written in a programming code (the most common being HTML). The pages are designed to display information that you then read and interact with. Just how positive such experiences are have to do with Human-Computer Interaction, but for now let's just look at what is going on here.

It seems so common now for people to be "on the web." Much of our daily lives revolve around the web, even for those who don't even own a computer or claim to not have anything to do with computers (and the Internet) ... that just isn't possible, because we're all connected by the Internet now. Companies, businesses, corporations, and even the government are all interconnected by the Internet. Money flows back and forth over the internet for financial institutions and for individuals (as online shopping and banking continue to grow). Records, information, transactions, and people (YOU and me) are all criss-crossing paths "out there" on the Internet. It's pretty amazing actually!

But no one really gets trained for using the Internet. We just become a part of it, getting absorbed into the "go & flow" of it all. And, that's why it helps, at points like, this to stand back and take an objective glimpse at what we are all collectively doing "out here!" And, really, that's what this web site is devoted to - putting our collective online consciousness into perspective ... so let's take a closer look at all of that.

First of all, a computer is a tool - an amazing piece of constantly evolving technology - that helps each of us do more - at work and at home. And, hopefully, what we accomplish with computers results in less heartache than if we had to do things the "old fashioned way" ala typewriters as well as writing and figuring things out "by hand." The other part of the equation here is the Internet which also is a tool and somewhat of a destination, of sorts. That's where the grids come into play. You connect your computer to a local grid that is your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and then you venture out on to the web to find information (information, news, weather, sports scores), check your email, for shopping, and, probably the biggest "being there" of all, connect with other people (Instant Messaging is probably the most popular and well known option here). It is important to note that much of this ties to cell phones now as they become more and more a part of the Internet and an extension of our computing world, going far beyond the original purpose of "calling somebody."

Computers and the Internet have wrapped themselves tightly around our intellect so now we think in terms of computing and the Internet. I have a good example of that. I'm a baseball fan. In the mid '90s I started listening to baseball games over the Internet. Then in 2004, I was able to start watching baseball games over the Internet. Now, thanks to a somewhat involved process, I have connected my large screen TV to my PC and I can watch baseball games on the Internet without ever getting up from my livingroom couch!

But, is there a price to pay for all of this? Alvin Tofler, in his 1970s book, "Future Shock," talked about how technological advances would be coming faster and faster (this was in the 1970s as microchips were just starting to evolve)... and that we would be taking advantage of it all as it came along. The problem with all of that, said Tofler, was that no one was assessing whether or not all of these "advances" were good or bad, long term. We were just "jumping on board" with anything new as it came along, without ever considering the consequences. That brings up the question, "Do we really need all of this or are we just using it because it is there; and not considering anything else?"

There is no real answer to that question, because now over 30 years later, it is quite obvious that we're going to use whatever technology we can get our hands on as soon as we can get it!

But, there is something else that each of us needs to look more closely at - the time we spend "out there" on the Internet. The Internet has come to fill a void in the lives of many people. The Internet has become a place to which people can "connect" on several levels. For games, for romance (there are LOTS of questions about that one!), for just about anything. Most of us who use the Internet have fallen prey to those hours that just disappear, when we otherwise could be participating in the real world! That's not to say the Internet is "bad," but how much is enough? There are people who spend countless hours on the Internet and, in many cases, it becomes an addiction. It is the void the Internet fills that continually reinforces people returning to "here" over and over again.

So, while all of this Internet "stuff" is great (the Internet truly is incredible - try and imagine what it would be like if we didn't have the Internet), a lot of people spend too much time "out here!" And, I'll be the first to admit that on a very regular basis, I get lost for hours at a time on the Internet. Sure, it might be watching too much baseball (that I otherwise wouldn't have done, if I didn't have the Internet "hooked in" to my TV). There are times when my wife has to come looking for me, because when I had said, "I'll just be a few minutes,"... I end up reading something somewhere out on the web ... that then leads to something else (you know how that goes!). Yes, I'm constantly learning from all of this reading, but, again, we come back to the key question here being "How much of the Internet is enough?"

And, therein lies the heart of the issue. Sure, you could spend several hours a day on the Internet and still not have enough time to do and read all that you want. But, the real world, with real people in "real time" is all right there around you, even when you lock on to a comfortable "space" or zone on the web. So, even though computers and the Internet are so incredible, I find that I still love to play Scrabble or take our dogs for a walk or just spend time talking with my wife  "HERE" in the real world. Each person has to judge for herself or himself, but each of us needs to keep things in perspective ... especially those who love to play online games - those can go on forever!

The bottom line with the Internet is this - just be careful what you're doing. Someone you get to know online, you don't really know anything about them other than the words ... and many people are good at hiding behind the words. Just don't ever let your guard down when it comes to the Internet and all of the people and places "out here!"

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