I thought the map of the social impacts of the internet was a great project for The Internet Course. Here is the map:

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It serves as another awesome example of the benefits of putting the students in the driver’s seat: I never would have thought of doing this project this way. It’s not that I’m unaware of some of the things that can be done with Google Maps. The Spreadsheet Mapper was new to me, but I’ve done things like this directly in Google Maps. I just would not have made the connection. The internet is everywhere, worldwide, and in the ether, or the cloud, but it has real impacts on real people. The class picked a few major points on a global scale, and of course there are a million more. But this could even work on a very local scale. I wonder how many small businesses in the Johnstown area have shut down because Walmart is able to leverage the internet to manage a hyperefficient supply chain. I wonder what businesses are flourishing because they can easily tap into the global market. I was talking to a luthier a few months ago. He said he used to work in central NY, but saturated that market so he had to move on to a different business, selling woodworking equipment, and different parts of the country. Now he’s back to making musical instruments in a nice little town and able to keep pretty busy because he has a global market online. The class had the brilliant insight to connect stories like that to a map, showing that the impacts of the internet are not some abstract thing but real effects on actual people.

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