Perhaps one of the biggest changes happening about computers is not with the computers themselves but more within people's minds. This page is about how computers are changing society and the way we interact with each other.
Computers not anymore a technology of tomorrow only for geeks
Indeed, in the past, computers were a new technology reserved for big businesses and rich geeks. Record keeping was mostly done by hand, typing essays was optional, looking up information took ages and required being in a physical Library. The younger generation will have used net connected computers all their lives and ironically the people not knowing how to use extensively are the ones becoming an oddity. Not being net savvy is becoming as serious of a flaw as being illiterate.
An increased dependence on the net
E-commerce is not a novelty anymore, you can order your pizza online and even walmart is testing grocery delivery via the net. This year, the sale of e-books overtook the sale of physical books; the web is indexed almost on a daily basis providing easy access for anyone to news, even on niche topics. Today, everyone uses computer for a wide variety of purposes. In fact, many people even have more than one computer. Streaming videos is the norm and even TVs are starting to integrate it. We are living in a different world.
Some have argued that the increased use of computers is bad for society as a whole because by communicating virtually, people avoid the real world when in fact I believe it is just the opposite. Indeed, it is getting to a point where to keep in touch, communicating via facebook, twitter, instant messenging and whatever new fashionable method du jour has become in fashion is a must to be a socialite. With the net it is not rare to have people in touch with thousands of people when most people's addressbooks were much smaller.
With all data available on everyone, there will be less and less privacy and it is actually driven by user desire to tell their stories. Photos and videos of people doing all sorts of things are available to everyone to peruse in an almost voyeuristic way even when people themselves are not taking the pictures (being for example tagged by other people). This trend will increase and though at first it will cause many conflicts, it will cause reajustments in society. Because more and more videos/ photos of people will be available online, a different open minded vision of relationships is about to emerge. It may seem like this higher likeliness for people to get caught is a bad thing. However, people will forced to become more honest and open minded in relationships, maybe even learn to tolerate more infidelity. Because they will be more common place, things that were once taboo might become acceptable.
Changes the rule of socializing & increased tolerance
I further venture that the increased use of internet as a way of socializing is a good thing for a society as a whole because it will push people from different cultures to interact more and thus decrease racism because it is in large part caused by a lack of knowledge about the others. With the net, people have gotten used to talking to people located in half a dozen countries simultaneously and love stories from people from two different parts of the globe do not surprise anyone anymore.
It will even help integrate people that are different. From shy people who can interact in a more free way with less fear of rejection. can be more integrated seemlessly in society... you can know more about the person before meeting them... sure, there are some assholes, but they already existed before. Further, by being able to communicate with people all over the world, this will in long term diminish the racism which is due in large part to not knowing. Of course, there are there are some people who would are glued to their computer 24/7... but would these people have gone out much pre-computer era? People complained that before the computer was invented, they spent much time in front of the tv and did not read much. In fact, when people are not communicating with each other, they are spending time on ressearch, via search engines like google. People any place any time with 3G can learn about the world... augmented reality can make camping trips awesome.
Changes in governance
Lately, because the net is more mainstream, governments have been trying to get more of a grip on it... laws like ice allow the seizure of domain names, talks of internet off switches, attempts to get generalized web filtering may seem scary but as we have seen in Egypt and Tunisia, no matter how restrictive are the rules. Even if the internet is switched off, people still find alternate ways of communicating. It may be annoying for politicians to find their goof ups immediately on youtube, there may be several attempts to stop things that are natural like file sharing, but the internet constantly reinvents itself and its momentum is to big to stop. Eventually people will get tired of being sued with laws designed for mass copyright infringement. Eventually, politics will be forced to become more transparents because of sites like wikileaks. Because everything will be known, politics will become more what it has always been designed to be, by the people and for the people.