The digital age that fell upon this world is marked by electronic devices, accuracy, efficiency, and most importantly, free information. Overtime, the wonder that once existed towards the internet will attenuate, and society will treat it as commonplace. This could be exemplified through individuals who check social media on their smartphones, not by personal choice, but by peer pressure. As individuals take these resources for granted, there is a risk that many will not properly utilize the vast web of information that the internet provides. In 2001, James Cortada had already expressed doubt on whether the internet was an information source or “just a media” in his book titled “Making the Information Society: Experience, Consequences, and Possibilities”. 14 years later, society is still trying to evaluate the consequences and future possibilities of the internet. At the time of publishing his book, Cortada writes about the beginning of advertising and ecommerce on the web. There was certainly a lot of potential on the internet that is still present today. Yet, it also seems like the web has gone astray from its original goal of being mankind’s best source of information.
While there is no doubt information is present on the web, it is unclear how much of that it is being used for the betterment of society. Robot traffic (also known as artificial traffic or simply bot traffic) outnumbers human traffic on the web. A slight majority of these bots were noted to be “bad bots”, which are malicious to websites and its users. The same company, Incapsula (a source that many trust in ecommerce) makes a more stunning claim towards small websites. It defines small websites as one with 1,000 visitors per day or less, and predicts that over 80% of small website traffic is bot traffic. The company notes that it based its predictions on 20,000 websites. It certainly does not represent every small website. But it does change the view that the internet is made up of small hubs of information. Instead, only a fraction of a website’s traffic is human. Nevertheless, Google’s bots crawls both small and large websites. This begs the question, if content on the web is indexed with equality, why doesn’t the best and most accurate pieces of information always rise to the top? Spam, rumors, and inaccurate information plagues popular searches on any search engine. Taking this rough analysis further, only a few of Youtube’s daily “viral” avails any useful information.
Conceivably, there may be a larger question at hand. Can the internet’s current existence be justified considering all the resources it requires? Or is society living on a high-tech data landfill? Tell us what you think in the comment section.