Decline in the Usefulness of the Internet

Those who have used the Internet since it was first widely available in the 1990s, have viewed with dismay the deterioration of its usefulness over the past decade. While computer manufacturers have installed faster processors, and service providers have announced generation after generation of supposedly faster connections, the reality has been a trend in the opposite direction. There is no doubt that technological advances have made all electronic systems work faster, but the increase in speed has been more than offset by manipulations serving commercial interests.

There was a time when one could type into a search engine what one needed and reach a web page that exactly supplied one’s requirement and responded at once to one’s further instructions. Now, the search engines are programmed to ignore the full import of one’s input and select only one or two words of commercial significance to provide the enquirer with a plethora of unwanted irrelevant websites with something to sell. If one does succeed in finding a website that is relevant to one’s search, it remains frozen and inoperable until the last advertisement has been fully installed and then becomes a minefield in which one must tread cautiously to avoid further unwanted diversions.

Those who write articles to be published on-line are familiar with the process of ezine publishing by which articles are re-published on another website. It is of interest to find where articles are re-published because they are often taken in complete neglect of the fair copying rules. Some websites rework articles by using a software programme that randomly replaces key words with approximate synonyms and leaves the text garbled and almost incomprehensible. An author may view with relief the absence of an attribution, but the practice is unethical and perhaps illegal, and it would be useful to be able to identify offenders. However, the input of an article title seldom results in anything useful since the input is no longer taken as a whole.

Most article titles have one or more words that can be linked to a product or service. The name of a country, for example, will deluge the searcher with a flood of websites advertising airlines, hotels, packaged tours and restaurants, and the name of any common product produces the same effect. Words are adjusted to the names of celebrities, with, for example, King Freddie being invariably taken as Freddie King, whoever he might be. The operations of search engines have been progressively refined to enhance exploitation by the leaders of multinational commerce. To adapt Mahatma Gandhi’s famous reflection on human nature, the Internet, which was said to have been invented to serve scientific need, now serves mainly corporate greed.