The Intellectual Advantage

June 15th, 2010 in .Blogs .Laptops & Netbooks
Mrs Mario
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I recently joined a group of like minded humans who all get together on a Monday night to sit and chat and create things. It struck me that, even though I was a complete novice, I was far more clued up on the terminology, the tactics and the new ideas than some of the most experienced people present.

The reason for this wasn’t my astounding intellect or brilliant talent but rather my access to the internet and a computer. It sounds incredibly obvious but, for many people, it still isn’t. Once I’d discovered my passion for this subject I went online and read and read and read.

Every last drop of information and every last blog was absorbed and understood. Without realising it, I had put myself at a distinct advantage and was far further along in my studies than I had previously imagined. Even YouTube offered up a wealth of videos on my chosen subject, showing me how to do certain things in great detail, and helping me figure out more complex ideas.

What I am bewildered by is the fact that many people in the UK still don’t use computers as a natural part of their lives. Personally, I’m not entirely sure how I survived before the internet. Without it I couldn’t cook dinner most nights (who doesn’t love the fact that you can punch in whatever’s hiding in your fridge and a recipe appears?), couldn’t check the latest news and would probably expire.

While on holiday recently, I was completely removed from the internet. My lifeline was ripped away, albeit in a very nice and beachy way, and I was left to fend for myself. By Day 3 I was starting to tremble more than a little. My fingers itched to check my email, update my blog and see what was happening in the world.

This wasn’t because I hadn’t thought to bring my trusty netbook. Oh no, that was there, neatly ensconced in its case and ready for the Great Novel to be written as I overlooked the ocean. It was the fact that I was so far from any form of network as to be somewhere in the Arctic.

So this, plus the fact that nobody in this group seemed to think the internet was more than just a place to visit once in a while, had me wondering if I was the abnormal one. According to the Office for National Statistics, an extremely fascinating place to visit at the best of times, 70% of UK households had internet access in 2009. This boils down to 18.3 million households in the UK which was up on almost 2 million from 2008.

It was also interesting to note that 64% of all adults who used the internet even bought something online in 2009, and of that 83% had only done so in the previous three months. Now, I’ve been shopping online ever since it first became available to me. No crowds, no mess and no fuss. If you don’t like it, return it, again with any fuss or mess.

So what is stopping people from turning the internet into as useful a tool as soap? Does it still come across as complex and terrifying for many users, or has it kept a reputation of being only for the brave or the geeky?

Or is it that the headlines read “Internet linked to depression”, “Internet bad for the brain” and other such brilliant exclamations terrify those not in the know too much for them to brave the waters. While I’m not an avid fan of statistics, I think it’s pretty sad that such an incredible resource remains untapped by so many people. I think it’s time we whipped our netbooks out and converted the masses.

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