What has the internet actually replaced?
June 21, 2008 9:54 AM   Subscribe

What institutions/artefacts/services has the internet categorically seen the back of?
posted by MrMerlot to Computers & Internet (40 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
In many cities Craigslist has replaced classified sections.
posted by danb at 10:02 AM on June 21, 2008


Online catalogs are so clearly superior to paper ones that I think those are destined for the ashpits of history. But it hasn't happened yet.
posted by Class Goat at 10:07 AM on June 21, 2008


For me, libraries.

I remember pre-internet, actually having to go to the library and look things up in big reference books that you couldn't take out.
posted by missmagenta at 10:08 AM on June 21, 2008


'Categorically' like in every single solitary example? I mean, there are still people using personal ads in the newspaper, there are still libraries using paper catalog cards, they still print paper telephone books, etc.
posted by box at 10:08 AM on June 21, 2008


For me, porn shops.
posted by rhymer at 10:09 AM on June 21, 2008


Physical music stores (if not now, soon).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:18 AM on June 21, 2008


Old-school BBSes and dial-up online services like Compuserve.
posted by pocams at 10:38 AM on June 21, 2008


Faxes?
posted by tapeguy at 10:46 AM on June 21, 2008


Unless you are more specific as to what you mean by "categorical" this is just pure chatfilter. Like box says, there are still examples of all of the above-mentioned things still in use, although with declining popularity.

If you mean truly replaced as in no longer exists at all then I can only think of the telegram.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:50 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


In the early and mid 1990s my mom served on the board of a non-profit that helped patients and their families find the latest, most complete information on whatever medical condition they faced. WebMD eliminated the need for the entire organization.
posted by acorncup at 10:50 AM on June 21, 2008


The figures that I managed to find from 2007 show that between 20-30% of U.S. households don't have home internet access, and don't intend to get home internet access. The digital divide is stronger outside of the U.S. and Europe where households with internet access are a minority. The telegram was pushed out of the market by a combination of internet media, and the widespread access to fax and express mail services. So at least in the world of the consumer, the internet hasn't fully replaced any services yet, and probably won't until a supermajority of households worldwide have access.

On the business end however, I think that TCP/IP has almost completely replaced the mish-mash of proprietary networking protocols.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:57 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


(By "helped the patients and their families find" I mean the patient asked for information and the staff researched the question, found the best resources, printed and bound the pages, and handed the patient one or more 3" thick 3-ring binders. Then sat down with them and helped them wade through it. A search could cost several thousands of dollars. Patients were asked to pay what they could on a sliding scale and the board was charged with raising the rest of the money through donations. It was called HEAL although I can't remember what the acronym stood for. Health Education something....)
posted by acorncup at 11:03 AM on June 21, 2008


Travel agents.

Encyclopedias, dictionaries and other reference books.

(Though as others have said the transition has happened too recently to truly have eliminated much of anything. There are plenty of people even in the US who will never use the Internet, and those people will need the legacy institutions.)
posted by Ookseer at 11:04 AM on June 21, 2008


Categorically, means categorically. As in "totally" replaced (or near as damn it)
posted by MrMerlot at 11:16 AM on June 21, 2008


Faxes?

Absolutely not.
posted by jayder at 11:16 AM on June 21, 2008


Well, HEAL was categorically, completely and in toto shut down immediately after WebMD was launched, and the board cheered WebMD for making all this information freely available to all.
posted by acorncup at 11:20 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


For me, libraries.
posted by missmagenta at 10:08 AM on June 21 [+] [!]


For research I'll agree with you, but the Internet has made the library a more useful tool for pleasure reading. I know in advance whether they have the book I want, if it's loaned out, where it's located, and if it can be ILL'd from another county. With this information, I can duck in and out faster than I can visit a bookstore.
posted by workerant at 11:29 AM on June 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Travel agents.

I disagree in that the market for information specialists is likely to still exist for at least a while. There are people who would rather delegate the process of planning an itinerary and don't mind paying a commission. And there are some organizations that would rather contract with a travel agency than to deal with the bookkeeping of individual requests for reimbursement.

Likewise, I don't see the internet replacing good research librarians.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:36 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Those trip plans you could get from AAA and the like, with maps, directions and such. I'd imagine you can still get them, but does anyone?
posted by gauchodaspampas at 11:42 AM on June 21, 2008


gaucho - in short, yes, some people still rely on AAA to get trip plans.
posted by muddgirl at 11:44 AM on June 21, 2008


Thousands of people, in fact, just like there are thousands of porn stores, travel agents and fax machines. This thread really brings out the myopia of us internet types.

And if the poster won't clarify whether they mean by 'categorically,' then what's the question? Basically, 'what's something you use the internet for?' Because that sounds an awful lot like chatfilter.
posted by box at 11:50 AM on June 21, 2008


Manual telephone switchboards.

Physical-courier-based bank transfers, and by extension, check kiting.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:04 PM on June 21, 2008


ahem, i have clarified
posted by MrMerlot at 12:15 PM on June 21, 2008


I apologize for having missed your earlier comment, Mr. M, but, respectfully, it might not have the clarifying power that you hoped for. 'Totally' means one thing, and 'near as damn it' means something else.

Allowing the 'near as damn it' stuff makes for a much wider range of acceptable answers, especially since I'm pretty confident that, somewhere in the third world or the former Communist country or something, there's somebody who's still using a manual switchboard. Limiting it to the 'totally' stuff is a lot harder and narrower, but, in my opinion, it makes a more interesting (and less chatty, and less subjective) question.
posted by box at 12:34 PM on June 21, 2008


Categorically, means categorically. As in "totally" replaced (or near as damn it)

In that case, nothing.
posted by missmagenta at 12:40 PM on June 21, 2008


I guess you are right. The internet has yet to replace anything.
posted by MrMerlot at 1:01 PM on June 21, 2008


Those trip plans you could get from AAA and the like, with maps, directions and such. I'd imagine you can still get them, but does anyone?

We use them whenever we plan a long drive. The AAA Tripticks usually have pretty up-to-date information on road construction, road closings and detours. Mapquest and GoogleMaps, not so much.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:31 PM on June 21, 2008


The Yellow Pages
posted by nax at 1:36 PM on June 21, 2008


In the context, saying that a thing has been "totally" replaced by the internet would not be invalidated by a third-world counterexample, because the internet can't have replaced anything where there isn't reliable internet.

I'd say most things have become more widely accessible, as in the case of travel agents - when Joe Shmoe wants to travel, he doesn't need to call a travel agent to plan his trip, but travel agents are still out there if someone has the inclination to rely on one. So the internet has broken down a number of monopolies, but not necessarily replaced them entirely.
posted by Lady Li at 1:50 PM on June 21, 2008


Thorzdad writes "The AAA Tripticks usually have pretty up-to-date information on road construction, road closings and detours. Mapquest and GoogleMaps, not so much"

Also they are arranged better and don't require any work besides swinging by AAA. And they mail them to you if you give them enough lead time.
posted by Mitheral at 3:30 PM on June 21, 2008


Thorzdad writes "The AAA Tripticks usually have pretty up-to-date information on road construction, road closings and detours. Mapquest and GoogleMaps, not so much"

Also they are arranged better and don't require any work besides swinging by AAA. And they mail them to you if you give them enough lead time.


Having worked with many different AAA chapters since the 1980's, I can add that they print fewer TripTiks than ever before, and requests for them (via their websites, most often) have declined year after year for the last decade. So they're going away, too. I imagine they'll be online-only in six or seven more years.

The travel agency "side" business of AAA, in fact, has been their biggest profit center for a long time (much more profitable than tow truckery), but it's declining fast too. The average AAA member demographic is getting older and older, as younger drivers/travelers prefer to arrange things themselves.

So not categorically anything, but definitely in decline.
posted by rokusan at 3:40 PM on June 21, 2008


Old-fashioned "Newspaper Clipping Services"???
posted by Gerard Sorme at 4:28 PM on June 21, 2008


Gatekeepers? Libraries, bookstores, centers of expertise. Data and opinion are using the internet to overtake experience and wisdom. But not categorically. Yet.

Did you hear Cody's is closing? The internet seems to have replaced Cody's. Categorically.
posted by Toekneesan at 4:47 PM on June 21, 2008


My boss still uses both the Yellow Pages and a newspaper clipping service.
posted by decathecting at 6:23 PM on June 21, 2008


E-mail displaces telegraphy
posted by canoehead at 6:47 PM on June 21, 2008


An important distinction to make is for whom has the internet replaced x, y, and/or z? For those of us who straddled the internet's coming of age -- meaning we learned the way to do things before and after -- I'd say job seeking more or less takes place online (in the absence of using your connections). Another thing that comes to mind immediately are Thomas Guide map books.
posted by pmbuko at 7:47 PM on June 21, 2008


The only thing the Internet replaces is previous versions of the Internet.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:09 AM on June 22, 2008


Toekneesan: Cody's is closing?

Dammit nooooooo!
posted by Pronoiac at 10:53 AM on June 22, 2008


Also: Toll-free numbers for more information on products, & possibly for ordering.
posted by Pronoiac at 10:58 AM on June 22, 2008


I can tell you from personal experience that the telegram ceased to exist in the UK long before the internet became popular. They were already obsolete when I worked for the Post Office in 1986.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:33 PM on June 22, 2008


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