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Internaut Day: Starling Celebrates 25 years of the Internet

From memories of dialling up after 6pm to mobile internet, certain YouTube sensations right through to dog filters, Starling’s team celebrates the World Wide Web’s 25th Birthday with a few memories of their Internaut escapades.

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).

From its earliest days, the Internet Improved our analogue lives…

Matthew Newman, General Counsel and Company Secretary

The Internet was just starting to be used as a work “tool” when I was a trainee lawyer.  So, we could still justify using fax (youngsters, Google what this word means) to transmit documents.  Whilst the internet has alleviated the pain of feeding hundreds of pages into a fax machine, it has robbed people of the fun of clogging up the fax machine/phone line of a recipient you didn’t really like and knew only had one phone line and limited spare paper.

Malka Finklestein, Creative and Content Manager

Ten years after I was born, I started writing: stories, scripts, poems, greeting cards, anything that needs to be written.  And then a new invention stormed into my life, changing it completely. It was called The Internet.

I spent my days and nights (well, as much as my parents allowed) exploring this new pool of information, chatting with people all over the world over Internet Related Chat (IRC), otherwise known as WhatsApp v0.000001. Some of my best friends to this day, are people I’ve met online, in a time when a 13 year old girl could chat with strangers safely. I was the coolest girl in school, that not only knew how to connect via dial-up modem at school, but that also had a modem at home, which was a privilege reserved only for a few, back then. I used to dig information out about whichever famous person I had a crush on back then (and between 13-18, believe me, there were plenty) but mostly on my new favourite singer: Adam Ant (yes, 15 years after his peak. I’m a retro kind of girl). And so it happened that one day, I came home from school, locked myself in my room, sat in front of my 486 PC and nine hours later I came out to the living room and announced to my parents I had just written an entire website dedicated to the Dandy Highwayman. In English. Proud as they were, they didn’t really know what to do with this information, aside from thinking their investment had paid off. Doing what I do at Starling only shows it was a good one.

The site? My pride and joy? Well I ran it for three years, until my army service, then my enthusiasm for the Ant man subsided for the usual reasons, it remained as a 90s ugly dinosaur for a while and a few years ago I took it off the air, hoping to reinstate it, as is, soon. Watch this space 🙂

It also offered us new levels of social connectivity…

Adam Dowdeswell, Core Proposition

MySpace, MSN, Runescape, Habbo Hotel… the list goes ever on but my first adventures into the internet were all about the social. I do not count myself as true addict, I would still occasionally engage in verbal communication with my fellow man, but I certainly could read between the lines of a ‘brb’ and a ‘gtg’ during a late night chat.  Things have certainly moved on since then with an endless slew of social media apps popping up offering everything from dating to disappearing photography (are these now the same?). Slick as the new offering may may be, I don’t think any app will take me back to being that young scamp, desperate to change my profile song which I’m sure would make Gemma Ash notice the brooding intensity I most definitely had. Now the occasional post on Facebook is as involved as I get, but who knows what is around the corner. Thinking back on it now my initial nostalgia has passed and I am suddenly filled with horror that I may not have deleted my old Bebo page, surfingadam333 will have to make one last login to cut the tie forever.

Kyle Paxton, Systems Administrator

I love the Internet. Internet is bae <3 LEL 😀 But to be serious for a second, I love the entertainment that the Internet provides. For example, on YouTube, thousands of people make a living creating videos for others – some are making millions and others are just doing it to brighten other people’s days. Some are just messed up or weird but many a positive impact on communities even if they don’t realise it. Even though people are miles apart, everyone ends up connected.

And just to prove Kyle’s point about the lols…

Megan Caywood, Head of Marketplace Platform

Baby Monkey. No description needed. 😀