The Number Shall be Ten: The Last Ten Years of Growth on the 'Net
What was that line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, "...Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three..." well, right now, maybe for those in Techno World (and our own Blogcritics), the number could be Ten. Besides, those other numbers are a little busy; One is the Loneliest number; Seven is the Perfect number, not going to even touch Triple Six, so how about Ten? It works well in Techno World, a one and a zero, all binary code-ish and cute.
Well on August 3rd, 2005 Blogcritics.org celebrated TEN million site visits. In just three short years. Oh yes, you read right. That's unique visitors. Actually the celebrating started on the 3rd, and I believe there is still some dancing in the streets, if not the Internet, going on. It's amazing what can happen in three years. Or in Ten.
Oh, and speaking of that 'ole Internet, here's the latest thing, Ten years ago this week, Netscape made their IPO, and what a ride it's been ever since. Suddenly, the Internet was more than a tool for scientists; it was a breeding ground for one of the biggest cash "eCows" in history. The Belfast Telegraph has a nice timeline depicting what's changed since then and now.
I know many out there still get kind of get confused with the Internet, the World Wide Web, and so forth. The Web, which made it's first appearance in 1991, was conceived and developed by Tim Berners-Lee while he was working for CERN in Geneva. Sure, it feels like it's been here forever, but remember the early days? There was no online shopping to speak of, and a search engine was almost as unwieldy as it sounded.
Now the Internet on the other hand, has been around for ages:
"A long time ago, somewhere between when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and the emergence of the cell phone, the Internet came into existence. As the 1950's were coming to a close, the United States was becoming quite concerned about the technology possessed by the Soviet Union. The launch of Sputnik and the fear of atomic war sparked the need for the U.S. to be sure they were as technically advanced as the Soviets. Fallout shelters were built, but we needed to be more proactive. In case of some disaster, how would different parts of the country communicate? A Department of Defense organization; the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) set to work on this issue. In the next 10 years or so, with key research being done at MIT, UCLA, and Stanford, something called the ARPANET was developed. Communication technology was moving from circuit to packet switching. Networks sprang from the 1969 original four-host configuration (UCLA, Stanford Research Institute, UC-Santa Barbara, and University of Utah), to a group of 62 hosts in 1974. In another five years that number had jumped to 188, and by 1989 - 80,000 hosts were in place in what had become, the Internet." *
I wrote those words for a publication that might now never see the light of day, and that's another story entirely, but the point is valid. The ideas and even the technology have been around for so long, but the actual revolutionary changes that have only been wrought in just the last ten or so years, are astounding.
For me, a stay-at-home Mom, my use of the Internet, or rather the World Wide Web (which is only one portion of the Internet) is almost non-stop. It's enabled me to pursue a real career in freelance writing, but even if that weren't the case, it's very hard to conceive of life without Moviefone, the RMV online WebMD, Google, and on and on. This kind of dependence on anything is a little nerve-wracking (like foreign oil), because when you suddenly don't have the product, well - it gets ugly.
The Internet is fire, it is the wheel, it is the turbine engine, it is penicillin. But fire burns, wheels run you down, and penicillin can close your throat. We don't take away the tools, just because we might get hurt. We proceed with caution. Again, I'll borrow from the same writings:
"...The accessibility of the Internet is both appealing and appalling. There are a myriad of websites devoted to the silly, the macabre, the spiritual, the mind-boggling, and the just plain scary. The fact that terrorists use the Internet so skillfully is horrifying - yet like anything else we must balance that horror with knowledge that we can stand up to terror by uniting, and the Internet is a great medium for that kind of unity." *
*How to Use the Internet to Your Advantage - Mary K. Williams, 2004