All students interested in researching the Internet are living in very interesting and
exciting times. From the Internet’s beginning in the 1960s up to the present day,
the Internet has grown to become a vast platform where there are now 2 billion
users of this global infrastructure.1 Predictions are that this number will rise to over
4 billion with the advent of the Mobile Internet, providing access to the Internet via
mobile devices including mobile phones. We are also witnessing a number of other
trends which are driving the popular use of the Internet. Firstly, we have the Web,
which now contains over 1 trillion resources with over 10 million added each day.
At the end of 2009 alone, there were 234 million websites of which 47 million were
added in the year. Secondly, we have the Web 2.0 phenomenon where the focus is
on prosumers who play a dual role of consumer and producer. Enabling the general
community to create and publish online material has facilitated the creation of content
at unprecedented rates. For example, the current upload to Flickr is equivalent
to 30 billion new photos per year and YouTube now serves over 1 billion videos per
day. A final, general Internet phenomena, has been the rise of user generated applications
on mobile devices as exemplified by Apple’s iPhone and iPad Apps within
the iTunes Store. The combination of public interest and a relatively simple creation
and publishing process have resulted in over 200,000 Apps now being available for
the iPhone and iPad and have led to Apple’s share price surpassing Google’s. For a
researcher, especially in ICT, a great interest lies in making an impact on our present
world in some way. Whilst this impact is usually seen in the economic or commercial
arenas, it may also have important social implications. A particularly interesting
phenomenon which has emerged over the last century is the transition of the Global
Economy from the one based on manufacturing (and before that on agriculture)
to the one based on services, sometimes known as the third sector.
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