Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Happy Birthday, Internet!

The World Wide Web turned 20 yesterday. One more year and it can go buy itself a congratulatory adult beverage.

It was opened up for public use on April 30, 1993. The news story on this - thanks to Kim Komando - is here. The concept of the WWW was conceived by British physicist Tim Berners-Lee (not Al Gore!) in 1989 but took four years for the restrictions to be lifted and public access granted.

And look how it has changed our lives. My, my, my. 20 years ago I was the father of a 6-year old boy, I was mourning the recent passing of my hair, and I was celebrating my tenth anniversary with the U.S. Postal Service. I was using Apple IIe computers at work, and had a first generation Apple IIc at home. (Eventually I switched to the PC platform for productivity and available software reasons. Sorry, Steve Jobs and Apple wonks everywhere.)

Now, I find that probably 80% of my communications are over e-mail, much of my social interaction is done on Facebook, and my Smartphone keeps me in touch with news and friends no matter where I am. All because of the Internet.

Yes, I still talk to people in real life. On the phone, at church, in restaurants, and I meet with friends on a face-to-face level frequently. No worries about becoming an online hermit here. But this anniversary puts me in mind of a mental exercise I like to go through every now and then.

We all have heard the things our parents have said to us:

  • "In my day, we had to get up, walk six feet, and change the channel by hand."
  • "When I was your age, when we got home, we had to get out of the car - no matter what the weather was doing - and lift the garage door by hand."
  • "When we first had a telephone, if someone called and no one was home, we didn't know about it!"

Stuff like that.

So the mental exercise is wondering about the things we'll be saying to our own grandkids. I imagine we'll eventually hear ourselves say...

  • "When I was your age, we could turn the computer off."
  • "Used to be you needed a key to get into a car and turn it on...."
  • "I remember when the computer sat on top of your desk, not the top of your glasses."

And what's even more fun is trying to imagine what our children will say to their children.

  • "When I was your age, we actually had to go visit the doctor in his office to find out what was wrong with us!"
  • "Google used to just be a big company, not a country."


Here's a grin, courtesy of Dilbert:


Heh. What do you imagine you - and your children - will be hearing yourself say in the future?


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. "I remember when people used to do this online diary kind of thing. We called it a 'blog'."

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