Thursday, 2 April 2009

twenty years

Listening to Digital Planet on the way to work this morning (podcast available here) I was thinking about 20 years of the World Wide Web.

In just twenty years the way we catalogue and find data has been radically changed - and the way that people communicate is completely different.

So, here's my earliest memories of computing and communication.

An Olivetti 386SX, 33mHz desktop computer bought for Christmas one year (1993, maybe?) by my Dad as a *family* tool.  I got to use it to play games, create documents for school and all that jazz.

I remember when Dad got Compuserve  - dial-up internet, email and the internet.  I had NO IDEA how it worked, what it could do or what the point was, but hey, it was there.  If I'd paid more attention, maybe I'd be more of a geek than I am now.

I remember trying to use webpages that were full of text (bad layout, crummy images and generally hard to interact with) and simply not really getting the point.  Was only 15 or so... I guess others are more entrepreneurial and I think I can see potential better now than I could then. 

Anyway, I do remember using his email to send messages to people (his email address was a collection of numbers - and I think he paid a fee every month to have access as well as paying for the dial-up call time.  I remember making up flyers for my band using the PC and putting the email address on the contact details and then wondering if that was too geek-like?!

And how times have changed, and some things haven't.  Sure, Moore's Law has brought us the equivalent of 90's supercomputers in our pockets and we can buy most PC hardware for a fraction of the prices of the mid-90s (thank you, China), but we still pay for access.  Not sure that's a bad thing, but it does have limits.

I wonder what things might be like twenty years from now.  Will connectivity be included in the price of the device - pay £200 for an iPhone 10.0 and do as much as you like?  Will technology fail us and we get back to writing on dead trees?  Will we think that this text-based interface is so old-skool now that we use video to interact and do everything (ordering your shopping by leaving a voice mail?).

I quoted Heraclitus when editing content for David Thomson the other day: Change is the only constant.

What are your earliest memories of the World Wide Web? How has this technology changed your life? What do you think the future might lead to?

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