Since the invention of the internet, its functions and purposes have evolved. And over the past two decades the role the internet has played in our lives has changed and become central to our world. Initially the internet was used primarily for communication purposes, and over time it evolved into a tool used for communication, entertainment, and business.
Here are four examples of how our use of the internet has changed since its inception.
The role of the Internet in the workplace
Once upon a time you'd be lucky to find more than one desktop computer within a business. Early usage was contained to the odd exchange of emails and perhaps a spreadsheet or two. Fast-forward to 2022 and almost every aspect of modern employment integrates technology. Whether it's cloud computing and digital file sharing to video conferencing to IoT (Internet of Things) devices controlling the office infrastructure, we can no longer extricate ourselves from the Internet.
Similarly, without the internet and the availability of online banking, card and contactless purchases as we know them would not be possible.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes of the internet was the advent of social media. In 1997, Andrew Weinreich launched the very first social networking site named 'Six Degrees'. This allowed users to create online profiles, friends lists and to chat with other users. Following this was the launch of popular social networking site 'Myspace' in 2003. This streamlined the way in which people were able to talk to each other online.
Then, in 2004, Facebook arrived on the scene. Facebook remains one of the most widely used social media platforms to this day with an estimated 3 billion users. When Facebook first launched it meant that everyone across the world could share their lives publicly and talk to virtually anyone.
Online gaming is an industry now estimated to be worth $195.65 billion. Online gaming has only come into mainstream culture in the past decade. Once upon a time, computer games were considered to be children's entertainment but that certainly isn't the case in 2022.
During the early years of online gaming, players had limited functionality. Text chat started to become used; Club Penguin was a notorious online game in which players were able to talk through text. Over the years, this approach would evolve into voice communication in the form of headset gaming - enabling groups of players to talk online while playing their favourite games.
It would be impossible to write about how the internet has changed since its inception without mentioning the invention of the mobile phone (or simply phone as we refer to them now). The first release of the iPhone in 2007 was a revolutionary moment. The internet was no longer only available from a computer in the workplace or at home, it was now available anywhere at any time.
The arrival of mobile devices and the addition of cameras also helped to accelerate the explosion of social media. The portability of the internet also led to the increased use of Google and other search engines in our everyday lives. Before the 21st century the idea of having a small device that could be used to answer any question at any time would have felt like science fiction. And yet that is the world we find ourselves in today. On top of this, the constant access to work through online altered people's approach to work, as to multitask being out of the house while working became common practice.
The internet has also served to turn the world of retail into the world of etail. From global giants like Amazon and marketplaces like ebay to online pharmacies like PostMyMeds almost anything can be now be purchased online and delivered direct to your door in just days.