A World Wide Web of destruction

We live in an ever-changing world. For good or bad, scary or welcomed, technology has brought varying elements into our lives that shape the ease in which we do things, the speed in which we can do them and the proficiency in which we can handle the task.

Oh, we have fun with high definition television, next-generation video games and smart phones that can provide us access to a plethora of information on the go, but the technological advance that has changed more lives than possibly any before it has been the Internet. It has spurred e-mail, timely news sources and the ability to order a pepperoni pizza straight to your home without lifting a phone — an important tool for your typical roundish editor with a dislike of standing up to find where he left the phone last time he used it.

And the impact of the Internet is reaching further into our day-to-day lives every moment.

Consider, if you will, the watershed 2006 national election. Many remember it as the day the Democrats seized back control of the House and Senate, but if there’s one memory that will live on in the minds of political aficianoados, it’s the YouTube clip of former U.S. Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) making a disparaging comment about his opponent’s staff, and shifting the numbers to the point that Allen lost his seat. Sure, that defeat helped the Republicans lose control of the Senate, but it also impacted Allen’s future political career.

“If not for YouTube, Allen would most likely be one of the front-runners today for the GOP presidential nomination,” said CNN Political Editor Mark Preston, in an online story about YouTube’s impact on politics on cnn.com earlier this week.

Closer to home, Sen. Joe Biden had his own YouTube moment when he was caught on video saying, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent,” said Biden. “I’m not joking.”

That’s not all. There’s even more ...

Sorry, I’m still struggling with the idea of Biden walking into a 7-Eleven or Dunkin Donuts in the first place. But, of course, I digress.

There is a popular video making its rounds around the Internet right now of a beautiful young woman singing “I got a crush on Obama.” The video has made its way to “The Tonight Show” and other mainstream venues, essentially providing free advertising space for presidential hopeful Barrack Obama.

Don’t think this stuff doesn’t have an impact. Many young voters in this nation get their news from parody shows like “The Daily Show” or “The Colbert Report,” and lasting images from the Internet can also impact their judgement. For candidates in this and future national elections, it has become vital that they have a presence on the Internet that is positive and resonates with the youth.

It’s not just politics.

Several news sources reported this week that text from the upcoming Harry Potter book has made its way to the Internet in the days leading up to its release. This has left the book’s publishers scrambling to get lawyers to shut down various Web sites and issue tough scoldings. Certainly some of the pages are hoaxes — another time-honored element of the Internet — but the reality is that this has to cut into sales to some extent.

We’ve also seen pre-releases of music and movies hit the Internet. While the federal government has stepped up efforts to curtail these actions, the Internet is far too vast to keep a lid on everything. This has caused a somewhat drastic dip in sales and, mark my words, will result in steep increases in prices down the road as the losses are passed on to honest consumers.

There’s also currently a blog that’s been making a lot of news in the poker industry. For those unaware of what a blog is, it’s basically a Web-based opinion piece for a person to write whatever is on their mind. Well, this one individual (a pretty well-known professional player) apparently had enough of another player on the circuit, and wrote on his blog every screwed up thing this other player has ever done. He mentioned drug use, theft of money from other players and basically hung the guy out for the world to see.

As you could guess, it’s caused quite a stir. Some players have come out and said it was just wrong for the writer of the blog to openly disparage another player. Others have said it’s good that he did, because it will prevent other players from loaning this guy money in the future. And the victim of the blog? How did he respond? On his own blog, obviously.

We live in an age of constant information and instant gratification. Let’s just hope it doesn’t ruin us.