5 things the Internet has ruined

(Fotolia)

(Fotolia)

, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

The Internet, in general, has been wonderful. Two of the biggest applications of it: e-mail and the World Wide Web, have changed our world forever. They have brought us so many wonderful things, but they have also killed off or ruined some things too. Today I'd like to take a look at just some of the things the Internet has ruined.

1. Productivity

Arguably, this has to be one of the biggest ones. With social networks, such as Facebook, and just the sheer, virtually unlimited access to information we have at our Google fingertips, I know for myself I have to work hard to stay focused. Anytime a thought or question pops into my head, I can get the answer online in an instant.

But worse than that, the web can take me down paths of information where I can become completely lost. I have to laugh sometimes when I come across the post that says "you have reached the last page of the Internet" because we all know that will never, ever happen.

2. The traditional record store

Record stores are all but gone now. The existing ones are either around for the used market and the nostalgia, as retro makes a comeback in a big way, or they have become pop culture wastelands with a record section instead of fully dedicated record stores.

Between YouTube and iTunes (and the dozens of other smaller sites), digital distribution of music has definitely taken over. I suppose that's why I treasure my small Canadian music CD collection every day that passes by.

3. Fax machines

To those of us that were around when this combination of printer, scanner and modem were melded together and allowed paper to be transmitted magically from point A to point B, it's hard to believe they are almost all but gone now.

This is a case of technology killing technology with the speed, ease of use, and mere access that e-mail provides, killing off something that seemed to change the world just a few decades ago.

That's okay, though, because we need those old fax machine numbers for cellphones, as they are become ever more popular.

4. Privacy

Yes, you can kiss your privacy goodbye for the most part these days.

Sure, there are those out of there who will refuse to sign up for services and things or create different e-mails and refuse you use credit cards online. You are admirable as holdouts, but at the end of the day, what are you really worried about?

I'm not saying we need to walk around with reckless abandon, but I find people are so polarized about this subject. Start living in the middle with the rest of us, and you'll discover that giving up some privacy has some benefits you didn't even realize you are missing.

5. The ability to spell

I've written about this one before, but it's not entirely surprising that Game of Thrones writer George Martin still uses an old DOS machine to do his writing. He hates the auto-correct and spelling suggestions of the modern word processor (although I hope someone has let him know these things can be turned off).

But it goes beyond that. Google can usually figure out what you meant to spell out even if you are only 60% close. Spelling has become a game of horseshoes in life with even myself typing away muttering "ah, it's close enough". Both joyfully and "sadfully", it usually is. By the way, I was just told that "sadfully" isn't a word. Pity.

So while you could argue that the Internet has ruined all of these things, it has also replaced them with things that are arguably better. Some definitely, some maybe not so much. This is the way of the world and, if you take a look at technology collectively, it's not hard to argue that the world is a better place. A different one, to be sure, but as the saying goes there is nothing as constant as change.

Syd Bolton is the curator of the Personal Computer Museum and the manager of Information Technology at ACIC/Methapharm. You can reach him via em-ail at sbolton@bfree.on.ca or on Twitter @sydbolton.


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