Oh the Internet – it’s almost impossible to imagine the world without it.
Discovered by Tim Berners-Lee, the British researcher and computer scientist, the World Wide Web is now twenty-five years old, marking a milestone year for the online world. According to Internet Live Stats, there are now over a billion websites, 3.4 billion-and-counting active users and 40% of the world has internet access. At the turn of the millennium, this was 6.8% – less than even the amount of Net-connected smart phones currently being used in 2016.
As a twenty-something, I grew up with w-w-w-dot language building in my head. Some of my earliest and fondest memories are from my experiences online. From about age eleven, just after the millennium, I was building friendship groups within forums, writing novellas on Stories.com, playing games like Runescape with my brother – all to beep-beep-boop music of dial-up modems. Back then it was slow, clunky, noisy – far from the sleek, mobile experience of today – but I still loved it.
In The Shallows, Nicholas Carr describes the Internet as a ‘feast… laid before us: one course after another, each juicier than the last, with hardly a moment to catch our breath between bites’.
And that seems more than just accurate.
Now, it’s fair to say that the Net has become an all-purpose vehicle for communicating, searching, learning, connecting. It’s how I shop for food, schedule gym classes, find out about major news events, how I keep in touch with friends, colleagues and even grandparents, how I bank. And I bet it’s the same for many of you.
So to celebrate the rise of the Internaut, the birthday of the Internet, and Berners-Lee’s incredible work, the team at Starling HQ have shared some of our favourite things about the Internet – from the humorous to the sublime (ok maybe not quite sublime).