Tuesday Aug. 23 marked Internaut Day, the 25th (unofficial) anniversary of when Tim Berners-Lee introduced the World Wide Web to the general public. Berners-Lee and his team brought more than just an interconnected society to the masses, but also brought positive change to users lives in more ways than one.
On Friday Aug. 5, the day before the anniversary of when the WWW was promoted in a short summary to the newsgroup alt.hypertext, W3C tweeted asking its followers to share their memories of the early web. Plenty of these responses brought in general nostalgia, but many responses were from those whose lives were changed for the better.
Some of the positive changes mentioned by users involved their social lives, accessibility, their place in the work world, and everything in-between. Regardless of reason, these shared experiences prove that the Internet as we know can be used to create positive change. It’s easy to forget that the web is more than just a form of entertainment that we access daily; it can also help make people’s lives a bit easier.
In my personal experience, using the internet (and computers in general) from a very young age helped develop my reading and writing skills. During my pre-teen years, using the Web helped me not only learn more about my hobbies, but helped me meet new friends with shared interests. Today, my job is an online marketing manager, a position I probably would not have landed had I never spent as much time online as I did. These are just a few examples out of a thousand more I could share, but I know I am not alone when I say the Web has provided me with so many amazing opportunities for different things at different times in my life.
People from all around the world, coming from all different walks of life can relate to one another with stories of how the Internet shaped them, even if just in the tiniest way. The information highway is more than just information, it’s also a social tool that connects those far away. Whether in real life or online, communities established in the Internet age have managed to bring people together and create friendships, or initiate discussion between those who share a hobby.
Everyone has different reasons for using the web, and different memories of their first days online. 25 years has brought different memories to different people. Some have been there from the beginning. Some came along during its growing popularity. Some are young kids who have only been online for less than 10 years and remember a short time before a social-media based web. The different eras of the web that have come and gone in 25 years have provided something very special and unique to anyone who uses it.
When the public first gained access to the web in the early 1990’s, there were only so many websites, and only so many users, which meant only so much could be done. Despite being very different and limited from the web as we know it today, it was extraordinary right from the start with what it presented to first-time users. The first web page was plain, static, and without graphics. While that may not look or sound exciting, the fact that linked information was being made available this way for the first time ever was something fascinating. That fascination continues into the web as we know it to this day in the way it functions.
Between the eras of old static pages to today’s social communities, it’s impossible to wrap up each individual’s experience online into one common set of memories. What can be said is that the web has brought a lot of joy to people in so many different ways. Here’s to 25 years of public web access, and to the rest of what’s to come in our cyber adventures.
How has the web affected your life positively? Share your story in the comments.
Have a suggestion for a future post? Have a net memory of your own that you’d like to share? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.