The Dawn of a New Age

Fall 2005 CSANews Issue 56  |  Posted date : May 23, 2007.Back to list

A recent Ipsos-Reid study revealed that Internet usage has finally surpassed the original electronic medium – radio. The study focused on "Internet-using Canadians" and stated that they spend an average of 12.7 hours per week online compared to 11 hours per week that the typical "Internet-using Canadian" spends listening to the radio. Don't worry too much. Television still holds the top spot among the media sources that we rely on. The "Internet-using Canadians" still spend an average of 14.3 hours per week watching the "tube."

The intriguing factor in this recent statistical data is that these "Internet-using Canadians" are not necessarily online all day at work. It is referring to their online activity at home in their leisure time.

Does this mean that there has been a dramatic shift in the media habits of Canadians' Not likely, but it is a moniker for change. The Internet has become such an easily accessible resource for information over recent years that it is getting to the point that one day we won't know how we got by without it.

When students study for an exam or research an essay, the first place they go for information is the Internet. When people want to find a product or service, the first place they go is the Internet. When we want directions, or we want to know the distance between locations, when we are looking for a phone number or an address, the first place many people go is the Internet.

What will become of our acquired skills to find reference materials in the library? The practice of orienteering will most certainly be lost. And advertising rates for the yellow pages are at an all time low. Why would people restrict their access to information to the geographical area serviced by their phone directory when they can get any phone number or address in the world by going online? We haven't even heard of an encyclopedia salesman going door to door in decades. An encyclopedia set was once the pride of the home library. Now the information could almost be considered obsolete when the latest and greatest on any subject can be found in the top ten options provided when you query Google®.

It raises some interesting questions about the development of the coming generations. At one time those that had the skill of acquiring the information had the upper hand. Now, in many instances, those skills will not even be developed. And why would they be? Humans are inherently lazy creatures that typically take the easy way out. Why would anybody struggle to learn a skill that, ultimately, they will never use. As an example, the Dewey decimal system is about as relevant to a student as Latin is these days.

So where does this leave us? Well, our own survey results revealed last year that over 65% of us owned personal computers and even the most reticent to the online experience have started to acquiesce and open up email accounts. To many it is an important factor in maintaining a relationship with the younger generations in our family and it would appear that the desire to forge a bond with our descendants supercedes our reluctance to learn a new skill. Good for us! Because it appears that this trend of "plugging in" and staying online is going to continue and will soon surpass the mother of all mediums, the television. And we certainly do not want to be left behind.