“Virtual reality”

Table of contents:
1. Introduction.
2. “Internet Revolution”.
3. The Internet and marketing.
4. The Internet culture.
5. Etiquette and Netiquette.
6. Conclusion.
7. References.

1. Introduction.
This paper investigates such important aspect of virtual reality as the Internet. Understanding other people’s languages, cultures, etiquettes and taboos is necessary for every person. Nowadays it is obligatory for an intelligent person to know the Netiquette - the norms of conducting in the Internet.
The Internet is known as an invisible communications phenomenon. It is used by millions of people every minute. For many people the Internet is a “room” that is situated somewhere behind their computer screens in a cyberspace.
Though the Internet exists for about a decade it has become the medium of the new network society. The popular and commercial spreading of the Internet has been exceedingly significant - promoting changes in almost every sphere of human activity and society.
The Internet is a new system of communication, new media and source of data, new way of making business, new form of political and cultural expression, new form of teaching and learning, and new community. From the very beginning of the Internet in 1991, it has completely changed the way firms do business, as well as the way customers buy and use products and services. The Internet gives extra opportunities for marketing. The spreading of the Internet has been so impetuous that it has been the point for well-grounded analysis. The Internet, virtual reality, can or cannot have negative effects on our culture and society?
This paper is concentrated on the Internet phenomenon and on the spreading of the Internet culture and its effects on people. Manuel Castells is broadly regarded as the chief analyst of the Information Age and the Network Society. The present paper reflects on Castells’ short and informative book “The Internet Galaxy”. In his book the author points out the importance of the Internet as a means of communication raising such questions as: the social dimensions of the Internet, the Internet culture, the influence of the Internet on the market, the political implications of the Internet, the digital divide and the Internet culture.

2. The “Internet Revolution”.
The history of the Internet dates back to the first development of communication networks. The idea of a computer network meant to provide general communication between computer users. This process has developed via a great number of steps.
The first ideas appeared in the 1950s. In the 1980s, technologies that became the basis of the modern Internet began to spread worldwide. In the 1990s the World Wide Web was used all over the world.
It spread amidst the western countries, then came into the developing countries and created a worldwide admittance to communications and data and a digital divide in admittance to this new infrastructure.
The Internet has quickly become a standard for navigating, advertising and selling information and executing various affairs on the Internet and Intranets. This “Internet revolution” can be valued by different factors, such as online sales, amount of Internet users, amount of host computers, and amount of domains. All these figures are unchangeable; the common feature of them is fast-paced growth. There was the growth in the amount of host computers from 1969 to 1996 (from 4 host computers in 1969 to about 10 million in 1996). The real, extraordinary growth took place in the 1990s (Kalakota R., 1997, p.45).
While examining online sales, research companies predict unprecedented growth. For instance, Jupiter Communications declared that in 1998 Internet commerce was worth $7.8 billion in the USA, and that this figure would enlarge to $108 billion in 2003.
The general value of the Internet commerce is valued unprecedentedly, for instance, hundreds of billions of dollars in 2002. Nevertheless it remains vague if figures show real online trade or just sales, which contain sending an email message or two. For example, the USA Department of Commerce’s $825 million for the value of airline tickets bought in the USA via the Internet in 1998. It is a 300% growth from the 1996 figure (Clemente P. C. 1998, p. 32).
While studying the amount of Internet users, the Internet had 30 million users on 10 million computers linked to over 240,000 networks in about 100 states. The last figures indicate the fact that International Data Corp values that 40 million people are home web users in the USA in 1999, which consists of 15% of the population. “Le Monde” in 1998 published that 100 million people use the Internet all over the world. Jupiter Communications estimates that active Internet users - 4 to 5 million USA customers - shop regularly on the Internet by 2000, which represents 3% of grown-ups.
That is why, the Internet phenomenon is very significant and has already modified the way firms, and governments and individuals communicate, buy and do business. It should be stressed that this Internet revolution has changed and will continue to change the way firms sell their products. The Internet is also a marketing revolution.

3. The Internet and marketing.
The Internet as a new uninvestigated field opens new possibilities to market products and invents the way firms are selling their products. The Internet gives opportunities in several of the four well-known marketing P’s (Price, Promotion, Product, Place). The Internet is a new “unpredictable” way of distribution. It is also an impressive marketing communication and promotional tool. It is finally a useful marketing research tool as it helps to find customers.
Another item concerning the Internet distribution is the kind of products that are sold well in this way. Really, according to this distribution channel it makes particular products more significant than others to be sold via the Internet.
The Internet is a good means for giving information concerning products and services, and products that the customer will probably buy due to a good advertisement on this channel. Thus, products like wines are sold well with a good advice from experts and the great choice from Amazon.com boost book sales. However, computers are the most usual item that is sold on the Web. Besides, in this case of sales, the Internet can fill in the information gap that takes place in present retail.
Consumers and providers appreciate the Internet as a tool to buy items via self-service lessening prices for providers in the case of some services. The airline industry can serve as the best example. In 1995, 20% of the USA airline seats were booked by customers online and by phone. This reduces the price for carriers, and enlarges the convenience for online buyers.
Moreover, products that are very likely to be sold on the Internet are not obligatory new products. The Internet distribution channel also symbolizes a new growth for full-grown industries. The best examples are evidently Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble that are doing better than contestants on an inactive market due to online sales. The products that make money on the Internet are: computer hardware and software; books and music; gifts, food and beverages; jewelry; sporting goods; consumer electronics; flowers and greeting cards; apparel and footwear…
The Internet is a very attractive marketing tool with the possibility to customize pages, as well as new promotional systems, giving firms the possibility of communication and promotion effectively by adapting to consumers’ likings.
Interactive traits of the Internet permit asking customers their likings, and then the firm can adapt product offers and promotions to these likings. It provides the effective recruit of new customers. For instance, some car manufacturers ask Internet users for concrete information and in return give potential customers a $1,000 discount coupon or a free CD player coupon. Advancement can be targeted towards a customer’s particular interests and hobbies very easily. Besides, “web currency” assists effective advancements. Some sites like Smart Frog.com suggest using web-based currency to buy online.
It should also be stressed that the use of e-mail for marketing aims allows companies to perform better-targeted advancements. An online music store, targets particular users who like jazz or hip hop fans with special suggestions. Also, email suggests a wide scope of personalized communications with consumers, and online retailers are various: e-mail based on HTML gives a more dynamic way to provide data, it is cheaper than printing and mailing customary marketing material, and is easier to provide a customer with data. To make easier marketers’ lives even more, straight marketing e-mail service providers suggest specialized marketing e-mail programs.
Nevertheless, using e-mail means the threat to be taken as a spammer. In order to prevent this, firms should only give on-demand quality content that users have asked for. Besides, marketers never should send unsolicited messages, because anti-spam software that blocks unnecessary marketing messages will kill their attempts.
It is obvious from the above mentioned that Internet marketing is a supplement to traditional marketing. A Web site does not replace the traditional marketing, but improves the marketing program just in place. Advertising, personal purchase, sales advancement are all supported by Internet marketing attempts. For instance, in the hotel industry, Frank Passanante, manager of sales and marketing, states that Web marketing supports other collaterals to inform consumers of the product, and online reservations are a great supplementary sales tool.
The Internet can be viewed a supplement to traditional data marketing materials, books. For instance, consumers go online to find data about the product. This is especially true for technical products, demanding advice and time for making the decision. For instance, a Nikon digital camera received 60,000 mouse clicks in three months for a month 1998, on the Imaging Resources web site, an independent Internet marketing firm that supplies product data and sample pictures for consumers examining digital cameras and scanners (Sterne J. 1999, p. 21).
Marketers promote their web site on their usual supports, which means that traditional marketing supports can also supplement online marketing. This is a virtual trap.
As mentioned above, for products with less data, the Web cannot substitute mass promotion. Nevertheless, large consumer goods firms have the need for presence on the Web. The Anglo-Dutch group has created more than 40 web sites worldwide for its products involving Faberge Cosmetics, Bird’s Eye Frozen Food. Several decades ago the firms could reach almost 80% of their target audience with 30-second off peak television commercial. Nowadays to reach the same number, they would require 250 prime time slots. On the same grounds, big players in the consumer goods industry are troubling about the future of their primary media: TV versus the development of the Internet. In August 1998, in Ohio, at Procter and Gamble headquarters, an unusual two-day summit took place to discuss these problems.
Summarizing, the Internet marketing is an additional chance for marketers, and surely it changes the rules of the game, but does not danger traditional marketing. The Internet marketing is closely connected with the Internet culture that companies should know for a better sale. The knowledge of the netiquette is necessary for everyone who uses the Internet.

4. The Internet culture.
As a tool of communication and technology sharing, the Internet has become a powerful force that is difficult to control.
According to Castells the Internet has become the center for libertarian values of privacy, freedom, and openness (Castells, 2001, p.36-61). Castells believes that the interaction between four types of cultures resulted in this: the ‘techno-meritocratic’ culture, the ‘hacker ethic’, the ‘virtual communitarians’, and the entrepreneurs.
The author believes that with time the flexibility of the Internet will be used in commercial interests to change the culture of openness of the Internet into the culture of control.

Social implications of the Internet.
Castells in the chapter “Virtual Communities or Network Society” reflects on how the internet has changed the way people communicate with each other. The author speaks about how most people’s social interactions increase, rather than decrease, which is the general opinion of the internet.
A major criticism against the communication through the Internet is that there is little time for communication in a real time. According to Castells’ studies this fact is wrong and he rejects it.
Then the author mentions such a notion as ‘networked individualism’. This means that people build their networks on their own interest. In other words, the author points out that nowadays the society is no longer organized according to the geographical location but on the choice that a person makes via the Internet.

Political implications of the Internet.
Castells reflects on the connection between the iIternet and the government, on civil society, democracy in the society in the chapter “The Politics of the Internet: Computer Networks, Civil Society, and the State”.
The author brings up such aspect of the relation between government and the Internet as China. In this chapter he tells about a new version of the search engine made specially for China by Google.
Besides, the chapter discusses the role of the government in the aspect of absolute freedom in communication.

The digital divide: the Internet and the third world.
When developed countries with technological infrastructures were joining the internet, developing countries began to experience a Digital divide separating them from the Internet. China went on to make its first global Internet connection in 1994, between the Beijing Electro-Spectrometer Collaboration and Stanford University's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.
In the chapter “The Digital Divide in a Global Perspective” Castells gives a detailed analysis of the usage of the Internet all over the world. Then the author examines the connection of the digital divide and the Internet. According to Castells’ research, connectivity is an obligatory element of economic development and the netiquette is the code of effective communication via the Internet.

5. Etiquette and Netiquette.
Etiquette, in other words decorum, is the code that regulates conduct of people. Etiquette is an unwritten code, it is the way people communicate with each other. Etiquette is the norms of conduct and this tradition was organized by the society. Like “culture”, etiquette is a word that nowadays can be used in plural when talking about multi-ethnic societies. “Etiquette” or “culture” can be attributable to a certain society, they may not be universal.

Norms and effects of etiquette.
Etiquette basically defines and limits the way people communicate with each other. People of one culture can show their respect for people from the other country, culture when he follows the rules and norms of that particular society.
Serious etiquette violations can arouse public disgrace. Besides, violations arouse misunderstandings, grief and pain, and can even become the reason of a murder.
Etiquette is also the politics holding on to which helps to avoid great conflicts in the society. It is a significant sphere of the ethics. Sometimes it is regarded as something underlying ethical code.
Along with the etiquette in general meaning, there exists the netiquette - the code of behavior via the Internet. Like in the real world people communicate with each other according to certain norms of the certain society, with the development of new technologies there has appeared the Internet and that is why people do not only communicate face to face but via the Internet as well. The communication via the Internet is one of the vaguest forms of communication. In order to communicate effectively there exists “Netiquette”. It is the guide that helps people interact via the Internet. The knowledge of these rules is necessary and helps to avoid problems and misunderstandings while communicating.
These are the basic rules of netiquette to stick to.
The first rule: People are all human beings, in the Internet as well. You should never forget that another person who reads your mail is a person with feelings like your own.
You should never offense people, type the letter in caps that means you are yelling. Never write something you would never say to a person standing face to face.
The second rule: try to communicate via the Internet the same way you do in a real life.
Do not forget about ethical principles. Listen to other people, try to find out new things.
The third rule: do not forget that you are in the Internet, online.
Netiquette is different in places. There are different rules of conducting via the Internet and these rules vary from place to place. Do not make wrong conclusions and keep an open mind. If you are in the forum do not write something at once, try to learn the information first, read other people’s comments. Observe the way people communicate there, what they are saying. When you start feeling comfortable, you can add something from your own.
The fourth rule: respect other people in real life and via the Internet.
Add your information to the appropriate forum. Do not be too assertive, the information that is interesting and of great importance to you can be of no importance to others. Do not expect other people to agree with you.
Try to ask intelligent questions in forums. If the question is simple try to find the answer in google, do not ask it in the forum. Make people sure you just try to express your own point of view and people will be glad to help you.

6. Conclusion.
The given paper analyzes the Internet culture, the netiquette. This paper demonstrates the importance of the Internet and the Internet culture that is necessary for effective communication via the Internet. The Internet is a medium of communication, the medium of the newly created network society.
It summarizes several aspects of the Internet: the problem of social organization via the Internet, the culture of the Internet and via it as well, the influence of the Internet on the market and the marketing via the Internet, the politics and the Internet, the digital divide and the netiquette – code of behavior via the Internet.
Having examined the importance of the Internet phenomenon and the possibilities and dangers it represents in marketing, it is clear that traditional marketing and Internet marketing should continue developing, though used as supplementary tools.

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3. Hanson W. (1999). Principles of Internet Marketing, South-Western College Pub, 500p.
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8. Sterne J. (1999). World Wide Web Marketing, Integrating the Web into your marketing strategy.

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