It might seem like an everyday part of life now, but I’m sure that everyone reading this will remember a time before the internet – a time clouded by radio times, Ceefax, VHS and… Encyclopaedias! However, ever since the internet became widely available to the public and we were introduced to the melodic tones of the 56K modem dialling in, a whole new gateway of services was opened.
Now, actually listing everything that the internet has created would require me to type for at least 9 consecutive days, so I will count down my ‘Top 11 Favourite Internet Inventions’ for your delectations. If there’s anything I’ve missed or you disagree with, please leave a comment below!
11. Online Gaming
Okay, okay, I’m a geek. I can’t deny it. I remember trying to play Return to Castle Wolfenstein on a 56K modem and consistently getting shot before I’d even seen enemy players that were lucky enough to have upgraded to broadband. However, when I eventually got the upgrade, a whole new world of possibilities was opened – MMORPGs, competitive first-person-shooters and even complex web-based games became a part of every-day life… and IT lessons at school.
The majority of flash games are created by young animators and appear on sites such as Newgrounds.com and ArmorGames, using software on the Adobe suites ; however more recently, a number of ad agencies have used flash games as part of a marketing campaign to encourage interactivity and promote the product
10. Instant Messaging
Hours and hours were spent up into the early morning, plagued by these irritating noises as I waited for a friend to respond to my witty conversations. This is still going strong and shows little hint at ever ceasing, however has been replaced with newer sounds such as this and this.
In its most basic form, instant messaging actually predates the internet, taking advantage of peer-to-peer communication or using the same computer; however in the mid-1990s, services such as ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger took off, closely followed by more popular options such as MSN Messenger.
For anyone that isn’t totally aware, a meme is an internet ‘in-joke’ often revolving around a humorous video or image, and whilst they’re often driven into the ground through over-use, they’re genuinely funny for a while. Until things like this start to happen…
8. Discussion Forums
Again, another time-vampire of mine, I would spend hours discussing pointless topics on forums and throughout my web browsing history have been a moderator for both the Black & White and Lemon Jelly forums.
7. The Blogosphere
Often regarded as the best source of news and opinion, the blogosphere has exploded across the internet, allowing anyone to become a writer, whether it’s for a personal diary of events, journalistic insight or just humour. As well as this, blogs have paved the way for a wide variety of web-comics that have become must-reads on the internet.
One of the first recognised bloggers was Justin Hall, who began his blog titled ‘Justin’s Links from the Underground’ whilst he was a student at Strathmore College – the blog served as a basic portal to interesting sites on the web, and is still continuing strong today.
6. Online Shopping
I can’t even begin to think how much money I have saved (and spent!) thanks to online shopping – opening payment gateways to shoppers across the world, we can now purchase items without leaving the house and have them delivered by mail. With the advent of digital downloads, we also now have instant gratification and can experience media after a single transaction.
A great deal of their collective successes has also been attributed to the success of secure online payment systems, such as PayPal and Google Checkout – in 2011, the UK spent over £68.2 billion on online shopping, and e-Retail now accounts for 17% of total retail sales in the UK.
A fountain of (generally-reliable) knowledge, Wikipedia is a user-created encyclopaedia of… well, pretty much everything. Wikipedia ranks highly for a number of search terms now, overtaking the knowledge that may have previously been offered by blogs. The site has also led to a surge in niche/community wikis that deal extensively on a specific subject.
Whilst the actual idea of an online encyclopaedia had been proposed way back in 1993, Wikipedia itself was not formally launched until 2001, to complement Numedia, which was similar but written solely by experts, as opposed to user-created content. Wikipedia currently holds approximately 21.7 million articles across all of its 284 language editions.
The precursor to instant messaging, it’s hard to imagine where we would be without e-mail now. Not only is e-mail a vital tool for communication in business, it’s considered to be one of the strongest methods of advertising. And whilst I may currently have 20,323 unread mail in my personal inbox, I still diligently check it for any updates, offers or correspondences.
Ahh, YouTube – this site is the absolute time-wasters dream, and thanks to related videos, you can surf endlessly. Whether it’s compilations of falls, ridiculous infomercials or bizarre Japanese pranks, there is an endless supply of content, a great deal of which has permeated culture and news.
YouTube was created by three ex-PayPal employees back in 2005 and was bought by Google in 2006 for $1.65 billion – it has been credited with bringing attention to now-famous acts such as Julia Nunes, James Rolfe, Freddie Wong and, more depressingly, fred. The first uploaded video to the site was titled ‘Me at the Zoo’ and is pretty underwhelming, but we can only imagine the creators had no idea it would become such a phenomenon at the time.
2. Social Media
As much as you might try and avoid it, you can’t ignore the presence of social media. Almost everything is encouraging you to ‘Like’ or discuss it with a #hashtag, and the amount of friendships carried on solely through Facebook is increasing rapidly. At least 27.5% of the population of Europe currently use Facebook, whilst a staggering 50.3% of North America’s population are members of the site.
1. Search Engines
Widely considered to be the backbone of the internet, search engines are what almost all of us instantly jump to when loading our browsers (though increasingly, Facebook is the homepage of choice). Search engines help to connect us to our desired pages, and in January 2012, there were over 17.8 billion core searches, 11.8 billion of which were on the almighty Google (for a brief explanation of how Google works, please see yesterday’s post).
We shouldn’t also forget that without the internet, Lakestar Media wouldn’t exist, our digital marketing strategies would be mere whispers in the wind and the world would be a much darker place. So, thank you internet, now please stop randomly disconnecting when I’m at home.