The Web at 16, Can I Borrow the Porsche Dad?
2011 marks a different kind of celebration for the Internet: a birthday. Sixteen years ago, the Internet as we know it came into being with the release of the Mosaic 1.0 browser, the first publicly distributed web surfing utility. It has come a long way in the sixteen years since, growing through a still-troubled adolescence as it approaches the legal age of adulthood, but one only has to look back to the birth of our favorite technology to see how far it came.
When the World Wide Web as we know it was born in 1995, people thought a lot of things. Plenty saw the Web and thought about the potential it had, for business, for socializing, and for technology in general. Plenty more looked at the poor child and thought “that is a seriously ugly baby.” The user-generated content of this early proto-Web was utilitarian, unpretty, and, many thought, the reason why the whole idea was doomed to failure.
Soon though, the older kids that had been around longer grew to respect the internet, and even joined forces with it eventually, as both Compuserve and AOL became major players in the content game. While each had its own advantages and disadvantages, their younger sibling eventually began to outshine them, driving them slowly into obsolescence.
Yahoo rose to prominence as the greatest, most used search engine of all time, and nobody thought it could get any better than that. These were the days when the Internet was just entering the pre-teen years, back when IRC debuted, and more comprehensive web based utilities were debuted.
The Internet became the new “thing,” and hit its first growth spurt, a massive one. Companies like Kozmo.com, Webvan.com, or Pets.com began using outrageous business tactics yet still somehow landing on their feet. E-commerce became a term, as well as a driving force.
Almost as soon as the clock finished ringing on the new millennium, it all came tumbling down. Everything the Internet had known to be true in its childhood had been proven wrong. There was no denying the laws of basic commerce, and there was no way the fast-rising bubble of industry could keep expanding, yet last forever.
Then, as the Internet entered the teen years, still cautious from seeing the curtain thrown off the world, it began to rebel. Napster popped up and began a still-ongoing battle in the realm of digital ownership against the forces of piracy. Blogging became all the rage, as anyone with an opinion chose to share it online. MySpace was born, becoming a gathering place for these people who had grown up with the World Wide Web. Google went from humble search engine to corporate mega-mind, eventually getting fingers in most, if not all, of the Internets pies.Continued on the next page