This week marks the 25th anniversary of what could be described as one of the most influential and life changing inventions ever created, the internet.
This led me to reflect on life before the web…
As I am nearing the age of 21, the internet has been available to the general public for the whole of my life, but remember the time when dial-up was the only affordable option, when it took 10 minutes of annoying dialling noises to get online and you could only browse the web when no phone calls needed to be made or received? (Turns out it’s quite difficult to predict the time of every incoming phone call!) This was at the time when the novelty of making a phone call on a mobile from anywhere you wanted was still big, and the game Snake was a revelation in itself.
When it first began, the internet was actually only available to a small number of people at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research in Switzerland, and not until 1993 did CERN declare that the web technology would then be usable by anyone. It only took 7 years for a quarter of the American population to have access to the internet. You may think 7 years seems like a long time but if you compare this to other major inventions, it took 46 years for electricity, 35 years for the phone and 26 years for television – to reach this many people.
It dawned on me yesterday how much I rely on the internet, as a member of my family went to look up a word in the dictionary I found myself saying that classic line “Why don’t you just Google it?!”. As well as potentially making us quite lazy (does anybody remember the yellow pages?) the internet has created new businesses, new trends, new ways of communication and much more. Nowadays we don’t just have internet access on our desktop computers but on laptops, mobile phones, tablets, e-readers and mp3 players. We no longer have to dial up or even plug in, with Wi-Fi or 3/4G internet readily available almost everywhere you turn, it has never been easier or quicker to get online.
Whilst I could probably just about cope without Google, Facebook and Twitter, the biggest difference having no internet would make to my life is within my career. Our Business Analytics Solution CXAIR is based upon Search Engine Technology, would this exist without the internet?! How would customers view CXAIR? Not through a browser, and there would be no such thing as the cloud.
Regardless of what industry I work in, my job as a marketer would be dramatically different without the use of the internet. No website design or content, no email campaigns, no social media, no blogs – the internet underpins all of the fundamental aspects of my job and I it’s a job I enjoy, so this is a chance to say Thanks to Sir Tim Berners-Lee and co. for giving us the internet so I don’t have to spend my days licking stamps and sending out direct mail!