The internet celebrates its 25th birthday today and in celebration of its quarter of a century in existence we’ve decided to take a look at the important and wonderful ways that the web has changed the world
The birth of the internet
On this day 25 years ago British scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee put together his proposal for a system to improve communication at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland. Although it wasn’t until August 1991 that Berners-Lee uploaded the first website, the day he submitted his proposal is recognized as the birthday of the World Wide Web.
Nowadays approximately 2.5 billion people are connected to the internet. It has become a vital part of our world and has changed everything from the way we shop to the way we communicate. It has become such an important part of our lives that the United Nations have backed the notion that Internet access and online freedom is a basic human right. Here are just a selection of ways that the wonders of the web have changed our lives….
Media and communication
Remember the days when you used to write letters and buy CDs? Now these seems like the forgotten practices of another world! The web has completely transformed the way that we consume media. Over the course of 25 years the world has become more accessible, integrated and open. Facebook has become a medium of communication, Twitter has become an important vehicle in breaking news and starting revolutions. Print media has had to learn how to adapt to a web formula and create a more interactive and shareable method of sharing news.
The way we consume music is radically different thanks to the web. Over the course of the last ten years we have moved from downloading to streaming with services like Spotify offering music lovers a convenient and efficient to enjoy their favorite tunes instantly.
Televisions have lost their function in some households thanks to the availability of tv shows and movies online. Streaming services like Netflix and Crackle offer users a more personalized, customizable way of viewing what they want.
The web has given consumers the option of shopping from the comfort of their own homes. Whether you are looking for a dress or a laptop you can now scour the global for the perfect style and type before making your decision. Ebay allows us to buy and sell goods to our hearts content and Paypal promises to secure your transactions so you don’t need to worry about dodgy online stores or sellers.
The web allows many the option of working from home as all the content they need is available and can be accessed from any destination. Skype allows employers to monitor and communicate with employees externally and set up video conferences with people from around the globe. This has obviously resulted in greater flexibility for employees and employers alike but it also means that is harder for people to leave work. You are in danger of constantly being on call 24/7.
An open information society.
As well as providing us with news stories and public forums the web has allowed us to access a wealth of information that would be unimaginable 25 years ago. Google allows us to ask and receive answers to queries no matter how trivial.
The web has more recently used to hold governments accountable for their actions, information which was previously hidden from citizens now thanks to a number of internet activist has become available for the world to read and be outraged.
From Julian Assange to Aaron Swartz and Edward Snowden the internet has become a beacon of hope for those in search of a more open and honest society, but as Berner-Lees warns in the video celebrating his invention, this openness is under threat.
If you are perturbed by the restrictions that governments are putting on the internet and want to play your part in shaping the web of the future? Check out the video featuring the inspiration man behind the invention of the web….