AUSTIN (KXAN) — Happy 25th birthday, World Wide Web!
A 1994 clip from “The Today Show” speaks volumes about the progress we’ve made since the birth of this technology.
Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric are initially confused about the “@” symbol used in emails, trying to decipher how to read it on the air. Couric thought it meant “about.”
That’s when they decide to ask a question that boggles the minds of Millennials only 25 years later: “What is the Internet, anyway?”
These days, we concern ourselves about Twitter’s hashtag and figuring all of what’s trending in the World Wide Web and the latest viral videos. Technology terms are constantly born — and then later recognized and added to the official dictionaries.
The Web as a maturing twenty-something
The last 25 years have been packed with lightspeed progress, and the Pew Research Center has some predictions from the newly released “Digital Life in 2025” about what life will be like in the next decade. That’s part of the Pew’s series: “The Web at 25.”
One of 15 predictions about the Web for the next decade is that the Internet will be like electricity, less visible but more important and embedded in everyday life.
- Information sharing over the Internet will be so effortlessly interwoven into daily life that it will become invisible, flowing like electricity, often through machine intermediaries.
- The spread of the Internet will enhance global connectivity, fostering more positive relationships among societies.
- The Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and big data will make people more aware of their world and their own behavior.
- Augmented reality and wearable devices will be implemented to monitor and give quick feedback on daily life, especially in regard to personal health.
- Political awareness and action will be facilitated and more peaceful change, and more public uprisings like the Arab Spring will emerge.
- The spread of the “Ubernet” will diminish the meaning of borders, and new “nations” of those with shared interests may emerge online and exist beyond the capacity of current nation-states to control.
- The Internet will become “the Internets” as access, systems and principles are renegotiated.
- An Internet-enabled revolution in education will spread more opportunities with less money spent on buildings and teachers.
- Dangerous divides between haves and have-nots may expand, resulting in resentment and possible violence.
- Abuses and abusers will ‘evolve and scale.’ Human nature isn’t changing; there’s laziness, bullying, stalking, stupidity, pornography, dirty tricks, crime, and the offenders will have new capacity to make life miserable for others.
- Pressured by these changes, governments and corporations will try to assert power – and at times succeed – as they invoke security and cultural norms.
- People will continue – sometimes grudgingly – to make tradeoffs favoring convenience and perceived immediate gains over privacy; and privacy will be something only the upscale will enjoy.
- Humans and their current organizations may not respond quickly enough to challenges presented by complex networks.
- Most people are not yet noticing the profound changes today’s communications networks are already bringing about; these networks will be even more disruptive in the future.
- Foresight and accurate predictions can make a difference; “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
In-Depth: A little Web history
A computer scientist 25 years ago today, wrote a paper proposing a simple file-sharing service for scientists. That later turned into the Internet.
In 1995, just 14 percent of Americans used the Web. That number is close to 90 percent today, and the addition of WiFi and smartphones means the Internet is always at hand.
According to the Pew Research Center, 46 percent of us say the Internet would be the most difficult technology to go without. Cell phones are a close second, with television trailing in third.