The Digital Consumer

thedigitalconsumerThe way we ‘consume’ entertainment, and creative outputs, has changed greatly over the last generation or two. Over the past fifty years many of us have had an increasingly wide choice of how to spend our money and our leisure time.

Nearly half the world’s population are now connected to the Internet. Shopping online or interacting with games; listening to music through downloads; watching films and TV programs online through video on demand or video streaming sites– the choices available to internet subscribers are huge. But is it just ease of use and access from home that encourages us to have a virtual experience as opposed to making a physical transaction or interaction, or are there other things to consider? And is the attraction of the online experience universal?

Are there any creative products or services that couldn’t be made ‘virtual’, or that you think would lose their appeal if they were to be offered in this way?

What do you think is the main audience for social networking sites and for online shopping sites such as Amazon?

Explain whether you think the following events could be provided ‘virtually’ (online, on DVD etc.), or whether there are reasons why they work best ‘live’.
Events: festival, musical, outdoor film screening, fashion show, play, art exhibition

Digital entitlement

Many users now expect to be able to get unrestricted access to online content. In 2008, internet access was identified as a ‘basic welfare right’ in Sweden; shortly afterwards, the European Parliament also decided that access to the internet was a basic right. Online access has become a political, as well as a personal, issue. But could it be argued that reliance on the internet for so many aspects of life is unwise?

Do you think use of social networking sites and online forums means missing out on real experiences?
Could we be compromising our security or our personal safety by sharing too much online?
What about putting trust in online traders that mislead consumers or rip them off by selling them counterfeit goods or just taking money ? Who should be responsible for monitoring this?

In addition to the example above, consider any other possible problems internet users might encounter – in terms of the security of their information and personal privacy, as well as the accuracy or reliability of online content and products.

Construct a list of the key ‘rights’ you think internet users should be entitled to online

Policing the net?

As you move into the next section, keep the following ideas in mind:

The worldwide web is expanding daily with more and more users adding and accessing increasingly large volumes of data. Online traffic keeps increasing and so do the speeds at which internet connections operate. But can existing systems cope with continued expansion, or will there come a point when capacity is reached?policingtheweb

Many consumers rely on internet access for a range of transactions, putting their trust, passwords and bank details into a range of sites. Yet the internet is a global system and different nations have different laws: if you were ripped off online by a company overseas, you might find it difficult to get your money back. So who should protect internet users when things go wrong, and what should the consumer do to help prevent potential problems?