Does the internet devalue everything that it touches? According to some commentators the internet is driving a terrible decline
in standards and knowledge and is eroding skills and the knowledge base that they are built upon. As a result there is
the inevitable move towards an intellectual shoddiness that depends on the ability to access google rather than any real
knowledge. Comments please. I am interested in academics and business participation in this and any meaningful statistics.
This is a very interesting question that I’ve thought about a lot, since I grew up as a hacker in the early eighties and have been involved with high tech progress ever since. Curretnly I’m the CEO of Anamaya Resort, a luxury boutique hotel in Montezuma, Costa Rica (www.anamayaresort.com)
My take on this is that there’s definitely a devaluation of the current practice of doing things, but that this is countered by new technologies that are improving everything. But for the public, there’s a general lag time that happens between the destruction of the old ways and the learning curve for the new technologies.
For example, I can speak about the tourism industry. It used to be that people would go to travel agents or read guidebooks about where to go, and these experts would disseminate the information to the public. The result was high quality information, but it resulted in a more generic product base. Now with the internet, anyone can effectively advertise their own product, creating their own marketing and dupe the public. For example, in our area, there are rental villas that advertise as “beachfront” when in fact they are one row back from the beach. There are hotels that cleverly frame all their photos to not show that they’re surrounded by shacks in a bad neighborhood. Good graphic design creates an illusion of quality information when in fact it’s poor information, with a pretty presentation.
So step in “Trip Advisor”, a category-killing new technology that allows users to rate the hotels and rental villas. Trip Advisor has become so important to the hotel/travel industry that many hotels now derive the majority of their bookings from this one source (and it’s free!) The quality of information from Trip Advisor is generally high because their ranking system averages the opinions of actual guests who visited the hotel. The result is that hotels are trying harder than ever to please their guests to make sure they don’t give them a bad Trip Advisor review.
In addition, the internet, because of its broad method of distributing information, now allows for niche categories in tourism, and probably every industry, that couldn’t have existed before, resulting in a more diverse product offering that appeals to more people.
This is resulting in an overall improvement in not just information (because hotels don’t want to get slammed on Trip Advisor for misrepresenting themselves), but also an improvement in the quality of the hotels and the entire tourism industry.
CEO, Anamaya Resort
Montezuma, Costa Rica