What did we do before email? The author of a study done by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that college students are using the Internet "like they would any utility -- water, telephones, television." I honestly cannot recall what I did to procrastinate before I was able to check email twenty times a day.
This does seem to fly in the face of recent Internet nay-sayers who have argued that the collapse of the dot.com bubble, the failure of other on-line services, and the prevalence of pornography on the Internet are evidence that the Internet has not revolutioned life. As Steve Jones, the author of the study, said, "This is an interesting generation because they were born and grew up at a time when the personal computer was a household item. And they are going to take these expectations about the Internet with them when they graduate." They certainly don't know what we did before email.
A question that is not often enough debated is whether the government should subsidize computers, or at least provide public access to them. The issue takes a significant turn if computers--as a gateway to the Internet--are truly a utility. This poses an additional question. Which is the utility? The computer or the Internet, or both?