The latest edition of ON Magazine is a must read for anyone who's interested in the evolution of the web. It takes a refreshing look back at the history of the Web, and contains fascinating perspectives from some of the biggest names in the biz.
Coincidentally, my love for the online world started exactly 20 years ago... A bit of a 'right place, right time' scenario. Of course, in 1990, there was no Web browser, per se. Usenet was all the rage and everything was completely text based.
Things got really interesting when NCSA Mosaic hit the stage. At the time, I was working in a call center helping employees at Data General solve their PC problems (and boy were PC problems easier back then).
I remember asking myself if we could put answers to commonly asked questions on this 'web thing' in the interest of self-service. Well, this little 'experiment' resulted in 30% call deflection during the first two weeks. I was hooked.
This edition of ON Magazine poses three interesting questions throughout. I thought it would be interesting to pose the questions to some of your favorite EMC bloggers and others to learn a bit more about them.
I'll kick things off, and then nominate our next victim errrr, blogger.
How has the Web changed your life?
As is suggested above, it's changed my life dramatically. In fact,it's given me and countless others something to build a career on.
More importantly is something that I consider almost daily and never take for granted: Just how much more accessible information is.
When was the last time you went to a library? Picked up a phone book? How about a dictionary?
It would seem that everything is available in digital form. It wasn't that long ago that working on a research project suggested you were living amidst a pile of books and struggling to keep track of all of the relevant bits you found.
Today, the average number of terms entered into a Google search is around 1.4 words! Enter a word or two, and receive back a universe of relevant information.
I'd suggest the Web has changed all of our lives, changing how we find, consume and interact with information. Nostalgic as it may be, my days of sifting through physical volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica are over.
How has the Web changed business and society?
Among other things, it's helped connect us on a global scale. As example, consider the current crisis in Haiti. Twenty years ago, it would have been but a story in the evening news. Today, Haiti is not just 'some place'... At some level, I feel these poor folks are my neighbors.
Tools like Twitter and Facebook, combined with the immediacy that is inherent with the Web, has changed the game. We're no longer a bunch of disparate geographies on our little planet, we're connected to one another in ways never imagined, in many ways enabled by the web.
The changes to the business world have also been dramatic. Early on, the Web helped companies save money (and the environment to some extent) by taking hard copy collateral and exposing digitally through the web.
Today's web enables companies to directly connect with the audience in a one to one fashion unlike ever before. With the arrival of the social web, businesses are now in a position to build meaningful relationships with it's customers, partners, providers, etc;. No more big, faceless corporations... Rather personable and approachable brands - eager to conduct business in new and yet untapped ways.
What do you think the Web will look like in twenty years?
I question if we'll recognize 'the Web' in twenty years. In the past, it was identifiable by the browser. As it evolves, it starts to become more ingrained in everything we do. Heck, Ford will be introducing Social Media in their cars in the coming years.
Regardless of where and how the Web of tomorrow exposes itself, I suspect one thing seems clear to me: The future web will take advantage of information about the user to build a contextually friendly experience. I'd suggest that the Web cannot scale forever as a repository of data. The technology is in place for 'the Web' (or really, applications atop the web) to understand a bit more about us... Who are we? What gender? What geography? Age, interests, etc;. Based on such intelligence, the web will transform from knowledge repository to a proactive adviser, helping us navigate and leverage the power of this unimaginable universe of information.
So thanks for indulging me and letting me reflect back on twenty amazing years of Web evolution.
These are interesting questions that will surely generate some insightful answers from others. We'd like to keep the conversation going both inside and out...
Stu's already started some of the external discussion. Let's see if we can get perspectives from other industry names... I'd love to here from from Rachel Happe (The Community Roundtable) and Adam Cohen (Rosetta) on the topic. And what about you??? Grab the questions above and share your point of view!
Let's use a #20Years tag to track this chat.
Barry reminisces about the joys of being the first kid on the block with a 2400 baud modem.
Gina shares her perspective, and reminds us that we have a long ways to go until the Web is freely and readily available for all.
Stu reflects on 20 years of web and reaffirms his place as a techie with Star Trek quotes.