Twenty years ago only a small group of scientists tucked away in a laboratory knew about the internet – today more than 2 billion people surf the world wide web on a regular basis.
The first browsing service was made publicly available twenty years ago on Saturday (August 6th) and now it is difficult to imagine a life without it.
It is now an established necessity in our every-day life. I know my daily routine involves being glued to my iPhone from waking up, then staying connected all day at work and reattaching the iPhone upon leaving the office.
Thinking about it, there is no wonder the internet has taken off so phenomenally, it is pure convenience on every level.
I would not still have half of the friends I hold dear today if it wasn’t for the likes of MySpace, then FaceBook and now my best friend Twitter. Moving away to university, changing cities, friends moving away – we can all stay in touch using the internet. The same applies to soldiers in war zones, Dads that work away from home, daughters that have gone travelling.
As for it making life easier, I cannot even imagine skimming through the Yellow pages to look for the phone number of a takeaway, to then call them up and ask all about their menu and then order my tea. No chance, too much effort; it takes around six clicks to order my meal online. (Laziness I know!)
I also would be driven insane with curiosity without the ability to Google any random question that pops into my head. Wikipedia has been answering many a quirky query for the past ten years and now features more than 19 million articles across 270 languages. Julian Assange took information sharing a step further with WikiLeaks in 2006 publishing private and classified information from anonymous news sources, news leaks and whistleblowers. The repercussions of the sites revelations are still making waves across the globe.
I wonder how many people wake up in the morning and pop down to the shop to buy a newspaper as their primary new source? Having a smart phone on your bedside table with access to almost every news source imaginable without having to crawl from under the duvet seems like a much more sensible option. Other people seem to agree as earlier on this year reports were published to confirm that for the first time in America the majority of people use internet based news as their primary news source.
Then there is online shopping. Grocery shopping, clothes shopping, house hunting and pretty much everything-shopping has been streamlined online and price comparison sites let us get the best deal without having to traipse from store to store.
From a business point of view the web has thrown open a 24/7 global market, even for the tiniest of companies. Who needs a store anymore? We are seeing so many web-only businesses offering low prices and specialist options for everything from holidays to spectacles. I’d be hard-pressed to think of a business that didn’t have a substantial web presence.
The web is also hugely entertaining. Imagine a life without funny cat videos, unless your own feline companion is particularly entertaining. (No keyboard cat? I hear you cry!) Without YouTube we’d have to wait for the weekly instalment of You’ve Been Framed for our video based giggles.
I for one will be celebrating the anniversary of the world wide web this weekend, I’ll probably write a blog about it, watch a few crazy cat videos (I’d recommend ‘oh my god cat’ it is hilarious), tweet a happy birthday #hashtag, buy a celebratory takeaway online, and read all about it on my news apps. Here’s to the next 20 years!