This is Mary Tillotson.
And this is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program,
Today we finish our three-part series about the history of
communications. We tell about the Internet system called the
World Wide Web. And we tell about the future of communications.
Things have changed
In our first two programs we discussed the history and importance
of communicating information. We told how the invention of the
telegraph increased the speed at which information could be
sent. We told how satellites in space greatly increased the
speed of communications. In our second program, we told about
the development of the computer and the linking of computers
into major systems called networks.
These networks led to the high-speed sharing of information
among major universities and research centers around the world.
The largest of these systems, the Internet, has made it possible
for almost anyone with a computer and a telephone to share in
what is called the Information Age.
In July nineteen-forty-five, the Atlantic Monthly magazine
printed a long report written by an important scientist. His
name was Vannevar Bush. Mister Bush explained that researchers
around the world were producing new ideas and useful information
every day. He said the information was being produced faster
than anyone could read it, remember it, or even know where to
He explained that the technology of nineteen-forty-five permitted
information to be kept only in books or pictures. He said some
new device must be invented that would make it possible to search
for, find and use new information much more quickly.
Mister Bush explained that research information is most valuable
when it is new. One small piece of information could help a
researcher finish an extremely important project.
Mister Bush wrote that he hoped a device would be invented
that could store information. He said people should be able
to easily link with this device to search for and gather useful
information. Such a device would greatly speed gathering information
and would greatly aid research.
The device that Mister Bush dreamed about in nineteen-forty-five
is now very real. It is the modern computer, linked with other
computers. The link is through the Internet and the World Wide
Web communications system.
The computer and the Internet now make it possible to find
and gather information about any subject within a few minutes.
Here is a good example. Oncology is the study of the disease
cancer. There are many hundreds of medical research centers
that are working to cure cancer.
The Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology is one of many publications
that prints important cancer research information. The research
papers tell about the results of treatment for many different
kinds of cancer. The information in this journal is written
for medical experts.
The editors of this cancer research journal place valuable
cancer research information on the World Wide Web. This makes
it possible for health care professionals and researchers all
over the world to use the information for educational or research
purposes.By using the Internet, a researcher anywhere in the
world is able to find information from the Japanese Journal
of Clinical Oncology and print a copy in just a few minutes.
To find the journal, a researcher would only have to type three
words into an Internet search system on a computer. The three
words are oncology, research and journal. Within seconds, the
World Wide Web provides a list of several possible research
papers from several countries. The study in the Japanese Journal
of Clinical Oncology is only one of many valuable research papers
that are on the World Wide Web.
Not every search is easy. Sometimes it can take a while before
the right combination of words produces the needed result. However,
the World Wide Web and the Internet will almost always provide
the researcher with a way to find the needed information. The
computer provides a quick link to the new information that scientists
like Vannaver Bush said was badly needed.
Eric Benhamou is the head of a computer company called Three-Com
Corporation. Mister Benhamou says people are using the computer
and the Internet to communicate for work and to exchange information
with their families and friends. He says people also use the
Internet to learn new things and visit different places.
Today almost one-hundred-fifty-million people use the Internet
in the United States. A recent study showed they use the Internet
for communication and for research. The study also showed that
much of the research that is done leads to buying products with
the aid of a computer and the Internet. The study also showed
that more people than ever are now using the computer to buy
Governments, private groups and individuals have criticized
the Internet. Some governments do not trust the Internet because
they say it is extremely difficult to control the information
that is placed there.
Some government officials say extremist groups place harmful
information on the Internet. They say dangerous political information
should be banned. Other groups say it is difficult to protect
children from sexual information and pictures placed on the
Internet. They say this kind of information should be banned.
Other critics say that it is becoming extremely difficult to
know if you can trust the information that is found on the Internet.
They wonder if the information is true. Did the person who placed
it on the Internet make any mistakes? Still other critics say
the Internet is no longer a free exchange of information and
ideas. They say it has become a big business that sells products,
services and information. They want the Internet to be used
only for research and education.
In nineteen-forty-five, scientist Vannevar Bush said researchers
needed some device that would make information easier to find,
use and store. The modern computer and the Internet now provide
this and much more. They are an important method of communicating
and doing business and will continue to be in the future.
In the United States, many businesses expect their workers
to know how to use computers. Children now begin learning to
use computers in their first years of school. Many universities
in the United States now require all new students to have their
own computer. Most colleges provide special rooms that have
computers for the use of all students.
What is the future of communications and the Internet? Experts
do not really know. Computers continue to grow smaller and more
powerful with each passing year. Computers that were thought
to be very powerful ten years ago are now considered extremely
weak and slow.
It is now possible to connect a computer with a wireless telephone
that can link with communications satellites.
A person with a small computer that can be easily carried can
now link with other computers from anywhere in the world. A
person can that use a computer that receives its electric power
from batteries and is linked with a satellite telephone. This
person can communicate from anywhere in the world.
Some experts say that in the future people will not use large
computers on their desks. They will use only small computer
devices that link to the Internet. These devices will be easily
carried from place to place.
All the information people use for business or for fun will
be on their own area of the World Wide Web. This has already
happened. Many people already have their own private area on
the World Wide Web.
Businesses have their own special areas. A husband and a wife
with a new baby place photographs of the baby in a special area
so relatives can see the new addition to the family.
People now communicate, listen to radio or watch television.
They to do business buy or sell goods, write a letter or send
a picture from anywhere in the world at any time of the day
or night. And they will communicate around the world at almost
the speed of light.
This Special English program was written by Paul Thompson.
It was produced by Caty Weaver. This is Steve Ember.
And this is Mary Tillotson. Join us again next week for another
EXPLORATIONS program on the Voice of America.
This V-O-A Explorations Report is published
courtesy of VOAnews.com