When I saw the little note on Facebook about it this morning, I immediately did the simple math (which took a while because I hadn’t had my coffee yet) and determined that I was 7 years old when the Web began. Now, I’m not going to try to pretend that me and my family were the first on the web, not by a long shot. In fact, although I had utilized the Web a few times before, I still remember when the Oster household officially got its “direct” connection to the web…when AOL finally got Web access back in the spring of 1995 (approximately 6 years after the aforementioned birth).
Plus, this birth didn’t mean it was available to the world yet. There was still a great deal of work to be done in order to get it to the point where it would be truly useful. And even more work to be done to get people to realize how this service (as well as the internet in general) could be useful.
I remember as a kid who had a love of computers, being unable to talk to many people around me about this love because they saw computers as being nothing more than something nerds played with. Sure, this could possibly be due to my youth in the Southeast, but…I mean, I love the South, but seriously, they weren’t into them nerdy computer things. Computers were not seen as much more than something scientists and nerds used throughout much of the world at that time, or as an expensive hobby…still for nerds…and I’m not sure people really knew what scientists were doing with them outside of teaching computers to play chess (the nerdiest of things to teach a computer, of course).
But the web changed all of that…obviously due to the fact that many creative individuals found a way to use this technology to create fun new ways for people to use computers, as well as the communicative properties that the web (and e-mail, of course) allowed.
And this is why I find it interesting that this birth has arrived with not much more than a whimper. Even Google, who would not exist without the web, does not have a doodle to mark the occasion, as they are prone to do for, well, pretty much every occasion. The birth of the web is, without a doubt in my mind, the single moment that marks why the internet and computers are such an integral part of our lives today. The Dot Com boom of the nineties is where you can really see the world reacting to the internet for the first time…and it’s called the dot com boom for a reason (although a person could state that officially denotes a relation to URL, not WWW…but that person’s just being a jerk).
The invention of the web is the moment in which the internet finally made sense on a global scale. Sure, Tim Berners-Lee (the man credited with this creation) utilized many already-in-existence items to craft together his masterpiece. Things like the hyperlink (something that the early web could not have existed without) were already around, but the web, like many important inventions before it, found a way to weave all of these items together to create something the masses could use.
Henry Ford didn’t invent the internal combustion engine (he didn’t even invent the car), he just found a way to make it available for everyone.
Finally, however, we get to my more personal note about the creation of the World Wide Web… If it didn’t exist, I have absolutely no clue how I would be able to continue to pursue my dreams of being a successful author. Not only is the web a never-ending source of information regarding anything I could possible need to research in order to ensure my writing is accurate and full, but it is also the sole manner in which I’m able to make my books available to the world. If it weren’t for the internet, I’d have to, at the very least, shlep myself from bookstore to bookstore asking them to carry my books in their establishment. More than likely, I’d also have to get a ton of print copies printed beforehand because I can’t even imagine how ebooks would work in a web-less world, meaning there would be a much larger financial investment required…which I can’t afford.
If I were to continue writing in this world without the big Ws, I’d be doing so in a much more reclusive world, a world where my writing would never make it off my niche personal computer (as I don’t see how people would have come to accept computers into their homes without the web).
And…most of my writing would be nothing more than the ramblings that appear here on this blog.
So, I guess, I owe my own sanity to the web, which seems a depressing thing to say. For all of the bad things that could be said about current web addictions, there’s much more that could be said about the turning point the world was in when the web was created. I’m happy to recognize that fact, and, as an old man, excited to see what other item that appears rather innocuous today ends up being the thing that marks the next big change in our development.
Have fun out there!