Thursday, 20 August 2009

The Web has always been about communication

A Potted History
The World Wide Web was invented back in 1989 by the great English scientist Tim Berners-Lee. At its most fundamental, the Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents that are accessed through the Internet. Just to clarify, the Internet is the underlying network of interconnected computers that provides the supporting infrastructure that powers the Web.

The Web is not synonymous with the Internet. The Web is an application that sits on top of the Internet.

In its infancy, the Web was initially used by scientists at CERN to exchange information with each other. This idea caught on quickly, and by the 1990s, the Web had grown into a huge information sharing and communications platform.

The Dot Com Bubble
Between the mid 1990s and early 2000, the Web had transformed into a transactional platform. This period was highlighted by the forming (and in many cases, subsequent failing) of many Internet based companies. The phrase 'dot com' comes from the fact that many Internet companies had the suffix .com on their Web addresses.

These companies were referred to as 'dot coms', and were building their empires using this new found technology. Many of them saw their stock prices soar, and the Web became the new silver bullet for every new venture and start up. The Web was seen as the new platform for commerce, and the main use for the Web at this time was for processing business transactions.

The Era of Social Media
Early 2000 saw a new breed of application enter the Web. These were sophisticated applications that allowed users to communicate with each other. Social media applications are intended to disseminate media through social interaction. Social media supports the need for humans to interact and engage with each other, using technology as the glue to bring them together.

Social media has surged in popularity, with a wide range of applications to choose from. These applications are all about engaging, connecting and communication. These are particularly popular with younger groups, including teenagers and young adults, but also popular among other groups.

Full Circle
So from its humble beginnings as an information sharing and communication platform, the Web evolved over the next decade into a transaction processing platform under the dot com bubble. Over the next decade, we have seen it transform into a social media platform. So in many ways, the Web has come full circle. Although it may have started out as a very rudimentary communications platform in comparison to today, it was, and still is a communications platform nonetheless.

The Web is a very versatile platform. It can be used for gaming, commerce and social media to name just a few of its applications. At its heart however, it has always been a communications platform, and this should not be forgotten by the entrepreneurs of the next killer application.

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