Other Things You Can Do On The Internet

It is surprising how many people use the Internet in only one or two ways. Maybe they only use it for email, or to check local weather or TV shows. And, of course, everyone knows one of the popular uses of the Internet, which is to, eh, check out photos and, ah, certain types of movies. Believe it or not, there are many other uses for the Internet.

No matter how much the internet has changed our day-to-day lives people still spend hours mindlessly surfing and becoming bored, running out of things to do much faster than they need to. Here are some things you may not have considered when you turn on your computer and connect to the Internet.

Let us consider the often-maligned phrase, ‘making money on the internet’. You see it everywhere, thrown at you like confetti. It has become a byword for scams and foreign characters sending you emails requesting your bank details in return for a fantastic chance to ‘work from home’. The point everyone is missing is that it is more than possible to make money via the internet; it is positively easy! The sticking point is how much.

You are not going to become a millionaire unless you hit upon a unique idea like YouTube or Facebook. However, you can make some spare change. The first and hopefully most obvious one is to write content. Join freelance writing sites and start writing about what you know and love. Do not plagiarize and do not write anything that already exists better researched on a more accessible site. Everyone clicks onto Wikipedia first, so write in your own distinctive style to make your content valuable.

In the UK, we have to pay a license fee to watch television legally in our household. Overseas, subscriptions apply. However, it is completely possible to give up your television, utilize the internet (if you have an adequate connection) and sacrifice none of your viewing habits whatsoever. An increasing number of channels offer watch-on-demand services (such as BBC’s iPlayer and 4od), and it is perfectly legal to watch these without a television license.

PLEASE NOTE: it is, however, illegal in the UK to watch live broadcasts online without a television license. This means anything that is on the TV at the same time as it streams over the internet. If you get rid of your license, you risk prosecution if you watch BBC News’ live feed, or a live show ‘as it happens’. Accessing non-live news video and content is perfectly allowed.

It is quite possible, in the 3D street view of Google Maps, to go on a click tour of anywhere you like, following the roads quite how you would on a road trip, right in your armchair. Google has mapped pretty much all of the British Isles and America, and quite a few other countries. You can wander around Pompeii, for instance. Check up that lane nearby you were always curious about. Alternatively, if you are feeling very cheeky, type in the address of the book you just sold on eBay and see the house where it will be on the shelf. Just do not keep their address, or check back to see if they remembered to put the bins out.

Do you always regret not taking that degree in carpentry when it was offered at your university? Why don’t you learn now? There is obvious benefit to having a trained professional at hand, but in some ways, the internet offers the same. There are literally billions of ‘how to’ articles out there, websites and forums devoted to every single topic under the sun.

Whether you have always been curious about late nineteenth century clay pipes, or Japanese costume, how the car has changed the world or anything else, like-minded and often better-informed individuals have used the internet to put their knowledge out there, ready to be snapped up. This is the first point defenders of the internet turn to when advocating its uses, and often that most forgotten by those who say Facebook and viral videos are ruining our lives.

No one yet knows how long the internet will be around in its present form. Most likely, now it is here, it will be around forever recurring in our lives like motorized transport, or heating in the home. Still, no one knows how long the information contained within the internet will last, or if we will ever reach a limit one day. Will the internet be wiped? It is impossible to say.

But it is feasible to say that archiving web pages might one day be practised like we archive books now, and that any content you write could be accessible to any amount of your descendants who may be interested. So why not preserve your own slice of life? History has shown us that the ordinary, mundane details are often the most fascinating and that we as a people always regret an unrecorded event. Start an online diary for future generations, or better yet, collect what you know about your family, or your house, or your hometown.

Every generation, valuable insight is lost just because people do not write things down. Your account could be the only thing linking future generations to your place, time or family. Maps, snapshots, family trees and newspaper clippings seem incredibly inconsequential things now, but they are what historians of the future will search for.

Take the time to think of the internet not (just) as an immeasurable blob of noise, abuse, confusion and headache, but as a blank page, cursor blinking. If you have an idea in your head you can use the internet to make it happen, no matter what it is, how big or how small. Consider YouTube, Facebook and Google. Now they are global forces, with the simplest of ideas behind them: video, communication, and searching. Focus and originality is all it takes. If you have these, the internet is yours.

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