Thursday, May 03, 2007

Are You Taken Over By The Internet?

The McPaper of the US, USA Today, has started a “book of lists” series to celebrate its quarter-century existence.

The latest and the sixth is entitled How the Internet Took Over.

For us, consumers/proponents/devotees of the Internet, it might be entertaining to slither through memory lane, just on a 25-year span, to relate with nostalgia how the 25 items on the list personally touched and affected us on a personal basis.

Twenty-five years ago the Internet as we now know it was in the process of being birthed by the National Science Foundation. Since then it's been an information explosion. From e-mail to eBay, communication and shopping have forever changed.

So, let’s start with No. 1.
1 World Wide Web
Tim Berners-Lee created user-friendly “Web pages” that could travel over the Internet, a network built to shuttle research between universities. The world logged on: 747 million adults in January.

The ubiquitous 3 Ws in each URL we had to type constantly reminded us that we were accessing and becoming part of that Web. But that didn’t preclude our puzzlement over how to distinguish it from the Internet that some had grown accustomed to. It was initially quite difficult to create a mental image of the differences between the web and the Internet, even after consulting their respective definitions.

In review, we present their differentiating definitions:

The Internet, or simply the Net, is the publicly available worldwide system of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using a standardized Internet Protocol (IP) and many other protocols. It is made up of thousands of smaller commercial, academic, domestic and government networks. It carries various information and services, such as electronic mail, online chat and the interlinked web pages and other documents of the World Wide Web.

A hypermedia-based system for browsing Internet sites. It is named the Web because it is made of many sites linked together; users can travel from one site to another by clicking on hyperlinks. Or "The World Wide Web is the universe of network-accessible information, an embodiment of human knowledge." - Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web.

Are we clear now?

2 E-mail
Tech’s answer to the Pony Express. Programs such as 1988’s Eudora made it easy to use. In-boxes have been filling up ever since. Nearly 97 billion e-mails are sent each day.

E-mail gave us the term, snail mail. Just a little pejorative to drive deeper the world of difference between the former with other forms of traditional mail – whether through the postal system, or those private mailing companies like UPS and FedEx. Mail through the speed of light is now our standard measure for efficiency and effectiveness of our communications.

Never got to install Eudora, since I started with the Netscape Navigator email client, which came and gained fame before MS Outlook. When Internet Explorer got bundled with MS Windows operating system, starting with the 95 version, that too signaled the demise of Netscape and its other services. Although the “bundling” got Microsoft back to the courts and into a number of litigation against it. Nevertheless, Internet Explorer was well on its way to its unchallenged monopoly, that is until recently when open-source FireFox threw down its gauntlet for a mighty challenge.

Anyway, back to email.

Now, many users are partial to web-based email services which can be accessed from anywhere internet access can be had.

Can any Internet or Web user now live without one, whether web-based or computer-resident?

3 Graphical user interface (GUI)
Most computer displays were blinking lines of text until Apple featured clickable icons and other graphic tools in its 1984 Mac. Microsoft’s Windows took GUI — pronounced “gooey” — to the masses.

I can remember Apple’s Macintosh proudly display its initial version of GUI, still quite coarse and very low resolution. We can also remember how Windows beat Apple to the draw in capitalizing on GUI, clearly sealing the defeat with the introduction of Windows 95 in 1995. This heavy loss most probably drove Apple to the courts to seek redress, claiming it had prior proprietary rights to graphical interface. No such luck, since the courts ruled against Apple after some years passed. Now GUI is so commonplace that most users now suffer selective amnesia when asked what came before it.

AOL turned people on to Web portals, chat rooms and instant messaging. Early subscribers paid by the hour. AOL once boasted 35 million subscribers. It bought Time Warner for $106 billion in 2001.

AOL blazed through the entire web, decimating whatever competition was already extant. It became the ISP to be a member of. And Steve Case of AOL became the darling of consumer technology enabling AOL to gobble up giant Time Warner.

Say, whatever happened to Steve Case and how is AOL doing?

5 Broadband
The answer to the drip-drip-drip of dial-up, high-speed Internet service fuels online entertainment. About 78% of home Internet users in the U.S. have broadband, up from less than 1% in 1998.

Yes, broad against narrow band of dial-up. Yet even during the drip-drip-drip period of AOL, I shied away and consorted with the “freebies”, starting with and then moving on to before it became for-pay. With and one simply allowed ad sponsors clutter to colonize one’s monitor screen to get free access.

In a couple of years went kaput to be replaced by The latter has survived to this day but subscription is now for pay. Still cheaper compared to AOL.

Broadband now comes in different flavors – DSL, cable, or satellite/wireless/microwave, and even using your home electric wiring system.

6 Google
So popular it’s a verb. The search powerhouse, with a market capitalization of nearly $149 billion, perfected how we find info on the Web. Google sites had nearly 500 million visitors in December.

What more can one say about Google. The search engine of search engines.

And who were the precursor webcrawlers?

7 Mosaic/Netscape
Created by Marc Andreessen and others, Mosaic was the first widely-used multimedia Web browser. Spin-off Netscape Navigator ruled the ‘90s until Microsoft’s Internet Explorer took off around ‘98.

I still have somewhere the earliest version of Netscape Navigator stored on floppy disks. Numbering 2 or 3 maybe, each holding 1.44Mb of data? But remember during those times, the entire Windows 95 suite resided on 12 floppy disks.

8 eBay
Thanks to eBay, we can all now buy and sell almost anything (skip the body parts). eBay has 230 million customers worldwide who engage in 100 million auctions at any given time.

And who has not gone through the eBay site, either to browse or purchase, and if the latter, kept coming back to find out how your bid(s) did? I still maintain an inactive account since I haven’t purchased any lately. I was for a while quite active on obscure rival, uBid, though.

Jeff Bezos’ baby began as an always-in-stock book seller. It survived the tech bubble and now is the definitive big box online store. It was the second most-visited online retailer in December, after eBay.

Any book buyer worth his salt must have gone through Amazon. And of course, those who write and publish books. But still a funny name for a company selling essentially books and other publications.

10 Wi-Fi
Have coffee shop, will compute: Wireless fidelity lets us lug our laptops out of the office and connect to the Net on the fly. More than 200 million Wi-Fi equipped products sold last year.

For many years, Ethernet was the buzz word for wired networking with its bulkier and more robust wiring, which was double that of your ordinary phone line. Cat5(Category 5), then Cat6, were the standards for PCs connecting to the network, and eventually to the Internet/WWW. And we thought that further future development was heading and winding in that direction, until wireless reared its head and made the wired network connection go limp for many.

Whatever happened to Gigabit Ethernet?

11 Instant Messaging
LOL! Web surfers began to “laugh out loud” and BRB (“be right back”) in the mid-‘90s, with the launch of ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger. Millions use it to swap messages and photos, even telephone pals.

Was never a devotee of IM, but I could decently frame and send SMS, which is very popular in the old homeland since it is quite cheap, sometimes even free, to send and receive text messages.

12 Yahoo!
Stanford University graduate students Jerry Yang and David Filo created this popular Web portal in 1994. It remains a favorite for email, photo sharing (it owns Flickr) and other services.

Okay, so I use Yahoo!Groups where I participate in at least a dozen email lists, being a moderator in at least one. But Iwon continues to be my home portal, with a customized MyIwon page. One good reason? Using it gives one the opportunity to win various cash prizes, and great items, too.

(To be continued.)


  1. Thanks for the visit.

    I didn't know about the official distance marathons require until your comment. Well, perhaps, like my ignorance, most organizers regard any running event here in the Philippines as marathons. In fairness, the annual Milo Marathons and the International Marathon we participated last February had a 42k event... in addition to the 3K, 5K, and 10K.

    BTW, your current post is very interesting.


  2. Zimm:

    So they were marathons, though allowing for shorter runs within them.

    Which is a good arrangement because many cannot tackle full-length marathons. Even in shorter runs, slower runners stay behind allowing the faster ones in front to run at their pace.


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