Friday, March 9, 2007

What If . . .The Internet

As part of a casual conversation on the way home from school yesterday, my oldest daughter announced that she was learning Romanian. She allowed that since Romanian is similar to Latin, and she has studied Latin for five years, this new skill should not be too difficult. When I inquired as to how she was learning Romanian, the answer was, "the Internet."

I wonder how my life might have been different if I had had access to the Internet as a teenager. Would I have discovered that I have talents and abilities outside of music? Would I have stumbled onto some little niche job that incorporated all of my quirky interests? Would I have found a college that better suited my learning goals? Who knows. All I know is that the world is whole different place for teenagers now than it was nearly 30 years ago when I graduated from high school.

Teens now have what seems like an infinite amount of information literally at their fingertips. Any interest that they might have can be explored on the Internet. Before the Internet, how would one go about studying Romanian? You would have to find a teacher, find time, ad find money to pay them. And, how much of these things would you have to exhaust to discover whether or not you had a knack for languages?

The Internet offers diagnostics for everything from are you overweight to would you make a good CIA agent. I realize that many of these sites are not "official" but even in an unofficial capacity, learning happens. We all have access to information on anything that we can dream about. Everything becomes real. I think that the most fascinating part of the information superhighway is the ability to find information that may spark an interest that can then be pursued in a more traditional manner, like college.

I am not naive; I do know that all that resides on the Internet is not good, But then, all that is on the shelves of the public library is not good either. How we choose to use the Internet is like all the choices we make in life - you can choose the right way or the wrong way. It is OUR choice.

So, I sit wondering what I would be doing now if I had been surfing the net back then as I do now. Maybe the only thing difference would be that I would be responsible for taking up a whole lot more server space with pointless blog entries . Who knows . . .