Post #5 — Internet History

17 03 2008

It seems like the Web has always been around. But I do remember life during the before times, as I like to call them, when you looked in the phone book to find a phone number (what a pain!) and the only way to learn about Hank Aaron was to go to the biography section of the library. I also remember life just after the before times — using a clunky e-mail interface in the mid-90s to send messages to my friends before Instant Messaging was invented; checking the Internet to see if the colleges I applied to had Web pages (many of them didn’t). But the Web infiltrated so much of our lives so quickly that it still amazes me to think that all of this was going on less than 15 years ago. So I thought it would be fun to reflect on life just after the before times with the help of an article written when the Web was just becoming popular.

In 1995, Nancy Garman wrote the article “A New Online World” in ONLINE magazine to encourage people to embrace the Web. She said that “recently (in the past six to nine months) the World-Wide Web has become the hottest aspect of the Internet.” In the mid-90s, the Web was just starting to catch on. Businesses were offering home pages, used mostly for marketing. All the speed and reliability of a dial-up modem Internet connection could cost $30-$35 a month, and you couldn’t even use your phone at the same time (and lets not forget that cell phones were rare and as big as bricks). And sometimes, that money didn’t even get you full access to the Web — only access to an email server.

Garman also noted in the article that “the Web is anarchy right now, and the librarians among us will quickly learn there is no easy way to search the unruly masses of home pages and Internet information.” She predicted that an easy way to search the Web would be the next step, and would happen quickly. Was she right? Well, compared to what searching was like in 1995, she was. But we still have a long way to go (if ever) before the even larger “unruly masses of home pages and Internet information” are well-organized.

Garman was even more on target with her last prediction, which encouraged the public to keep up with the technology because “once you are fully connected, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.” And how.


*The bibliographic information for the article quoted in this post is: Garman, Nancy. “A New Online World.” Online. 19. (1995): 6-7.




One response

24 03 2008

Wow! Are we still having these conversations — as the Internet continues to change. I think so.

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