The web turns 20 today. Should we celebrate?

The web turns 20 today. Should we celebrate?

By Tim Vandergriend

On 6 August 1991, the first file was made available on the net by Tim Berners Lee. This is deemed to be the birth of the world wide web.

I love the web. It is a wonderful invention that has forever changed how we communicate and how we interact not just locally, but globally. I’ve listed some of my own experiences of using the web over the years, and why I think my life has become better since the invention of the web.

Keeping in touch with old friends.
LinkedIn and Facebook have allowed me to stay connected to everyone I’ve ever met. This is amazing. Now when I have something to say, I can offend everyone at once, instead of only the people in the same room as me.


Shopping convenience
Instead of having to physically travel to a shop and having to speak to someone to get advice, I am now empowered to spend hours researching looking for the best product, and then finding the best price. And when I’m likely to be not at home to receive my online order, I know I can always physically travel to the post office and line up for it.


Saving me money
I no longer pay my encumbant phone company 30cents a minute to call interestate, or a $1 a minute to call overseas. With my $3,000 computer, $800 iphone, $110/month internet connection, $80/month mobile phone plan, I now pay nothing to speak to my friends telling them their internet connection must be slow because I can’t hear them on skype.


Immediate media and entertainment
Instead of having to walk to a video store or CD store to buy my entertainment, I can now simply download them at home.  Even though not everything is available online, and I often pay more then I would in a store, I love the convenience. Ok, often the downloads fail, or the quality of the item means I have to find another source. But because I can do this from home, it doesn’t matter that it takes more time and costs more.


Easier job hunting
With email and online forms, applying for a job has become so much easier. I know because of the increase in email communciation, I will be lucky to actually receive a response to an application. But it’s so easy to submit applications, I’ll just keep targetting more jobs.


More dates
We can market ourselves efficiently and effectively without having to shower, shave, or even get out of our pyjamas. Dating has moved from having to waste time getting to know each other, to allowing us to immediately compare a checklist of attributes we want in a partner, and qualifying our love based on a single snapshot.


Creating better social bonds
When I go out, I no longer have to miss out on conversations with anyone who couldn’t make it. Instead of having to be focused on just one conversation with those in my presence, I can now multi-task between many conversations via my Iphone.

Ok, to be serious. The web is central to what I do, how I communicate, and is central to my profession as a digital marketer. I’ve enjoyed the the many advanteges the web has provided. But, to be honest, have our lives become better? Or have they become more complex and less satisfying as a result of ‘always on’ communication, and the need for immediate response and gratification.


I honestly think we need to consider more carefully how we define technology going forward.  I think we need to do a better job dictating technological development to how we operate, instead of letting technology change us. Put ourselves first.


Consider that the 20 somethings who are inventing this stuff, may understand technology better than us. But they don’t necessarily understand how you operate as an individual, or our needs on a societal level.


My hope for the next 20 years? Let us not be afraid to take time to understand and voice our needs, wants and desires at a personal level. And let’s be bold and tell our bosses, partners, friends, and importantly ourselves...  hey, this technology doesn’t fit with my plan, my life, my values.