Well, I finally got hooked up to the World Wide Web, or the internet. The experience has been incredible and although I am happy to be plugged in and on-line there are pros and cons to this technology. I notice that much more of my life is centered around the computer and that isn’t really a very welcome thing considering the huge amount of time I already spend in working as a writer facing a computer screen.

It took a little getting used to when I first went on-line. I had to learn a few of the basics in working with some new software and in figuring out how I could use this technology rather than have it use me. In terms of positive things about the internet I believe the best service has to do with research. Through the internet I have a vast database of knowledge and information about any subject or issue from anywhere in the world. It really is great to have such a link to information at my fingertips. For instance, not long ago I was writing a piece on the flu and I needed some background. I turned to the internet for my research and I all I had to do was type the word ‘flu’ in the search area and tons of information opened up to me. This was very helpful and provided me with information that I would have had a lot of difficulty finding without the internet.

You can find just about anything on the internet. Recently a friend of mine was looking for a rare book. I did a simple search requesting book publishing and book directories and in no time I found the book, title and author and, get this, I was even given the opportunity to purchase it right on-line. By the way I found an interesting First Nation website called Keewaytinook Okimakanik which contains information on Northern First Nation communities, organizations and the arts. I also downloaded Cree syllabic fonts for my word processing software so that I can write in my Cree language. You can reach this site at: www.knet.on.ca

I still Find it mind boggling to know that I can access information on history, geography, science, travel and I can even find people or companies on the internet. Although I haven’t really ordered or purchased anything over the internet yet, I am sure it is just a matter of time before I am confident enough to do so. I also believe that many of the purchases that we make at stores, we will do over the internet in the very near future.

Communications is another huge area that benefits me as a writer. Now that I am on-line I can communicate with those that publish my work and I can do it faster, more efficiently and cheaper with e-mail. Recently, I purchased a scanner which allows me to send photos to various publications and that saves me a lot of time and money and as well is a benefit to publishers. I also find that e-mail promises to be a great way to stay in touch with family and friends and I plan to use it more and more for this purpose. However, I recently discovered something called ICQ which allows one to communicate with other people who have ICQ in real time over the internet. I had problems with the software I downloaded but in hindsight I am just as happy. After asking around, most people who have experienced ICQ tell me it is intrusive to their privacy and although it may be a good way for some to communicate it doesn’t appeal to me. I spend most of my day at a computer so I don’t really look forward to sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods chatting with people in my free time. To do so I still prefer the telephone for this purpose.

The negative thing about the internet is that I seem to be spending more and more time in front of the computer monitor. I also wonder at how the internet is going to develop in terms of affecting my privacy. Will we end up living in a world that science fiction writers warned us about with big brother monitoring our communication and the corporate world using the internet to manipulate our lives? Will much of our daily living revolve around this huge electronic brain called the internet? WII we become the users and rulers of this technology or will we end up serving it? Only time will tell.