Reflections on 25 Years Of The Web

25 years ago this week, the world wide web was born and since then it has evolved and grown into a world-changing technology that continues to build bridges and connect people in ways that Tim Berners-Lee never imagined.

In 1989 the Internet was an internationally connected set of networks carrying data primarily between research establishments at very low speeds. The thought of everyday people using the internet was not conceivable, but thanks to the creation of the web, everything changed.

Nowadays it’s hard to think about how we would go about our daily lives without using this incredible, uniting technology. It helps us spend more time with our families by freeing us from the weekly trudge round the shops, we can listen instantly to albums that we had given up searching for on CD and it has revolutionised the way we all do business.

In a more world-shaping way, it has given a voice to the repressed and helped bring freedom to people involved in the Arab spring. Education is also being revolutionised thanks to the Khan Academy and prestigious universities offering their content, on the web, for free and thanks to wikipedia, instant access to knowledge is now at everyone’s fingertips.

It’s changed everything and touches all of us, as Tim tweeted during the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, "This is for everyone!"

The Next 25 Years?

At Reconnix we see the web’s growth increasing even faster and further, taking it into new territories and in new directions. As developing countries come online their quality of life will be improved by enabling them to trade internationally and communicate more effectively. For those nations that already harness the web’s existing benefits we will see more and more applications being web based and there being less reliance on desktop applications and even desktop operating systems.

We also see the web becoming more free and open. Current attempts to censor and curtail users have been largely ineffective while at the same time the Snowden leaks show that our privacy is not as protected as we assumed.

The use of the word broadband has been adopted by society to mean "High speed internet" even though that’s not really what it means. Similarly the words online, web and internet have become interchangeable and many consider the internet to be the web and vice versa. With this in mind and web traffic now carrying data for services such video and directly playable in-browser games the usage of the word “web” is changing to mean “everything on the internet”

Over the past 25 years, the web has slowly made older technologies obsolete. Examples such as Gopher, FTP and Usenet have all been superseded by easier and faster web-based alternatives.

So What’s Next To Go?

No-one uses a phone book anymore, they get delivered and then quickly recycled, a quick web search is quicker and gives users a "touch to dial" option which is much more friendly than keying in a number. Speaking of which, we adapted technology originally invented to speak to people to connect to the web, now we connect to the web to speak to people via Google hangouts, tiny chat, or any number of other web based services. So If we have our contacts stored in the cloud and simply connect to them directly, why do we need a phone number? The days of the phone number are numbered.

The loyalty card will disappear completely there will simply be no need to prove who you are using a piece of plastic, in fact web connected devices will replace all the current contents of your wallet, and very probably see the end of the small leather goods industry. Another massive change in entertainment will be that publishers will no longer be required, anyone will be able to publish ebooks, produce video content and distribute their own music. Internet-only celebrities are already emerging and anyone with a talent will be able to find an audience.

Wearable Web & The Internet of Things

With the advent of wearable or carryable technology we can now be permanently connected to the web, we can use that information alone to enhance our lives. Smart home technology is now within the reach of everyone and having all our devices connected to the web will allow us to save time and money. Here’s some great examples:

  • The house tracks your location via the web and turns the heating on when you are twenty minutes from home
  • A web connected fridge will monitor its contents and order depleted items depending on your preferences.
  • The same fridge will let you know which products need eating first to prevent waste.
  • Your fridge will search the web and present recipes depending on its contents.
  • All of your devices will be talking to each other, feeding you relevant and important information.
  • Devices will report their own failure. If the fridge is not getting cool enough it will tell your favourite device to alert you.
  • Your device will be able to tell you “The fuel in your car is low and will not get you to work without filling up”.
  • Your car will tell your devices when it needs servicing.
  • You will never wait at a bus stop again, your device will know where you need to be, track the location of the bus and advise you when to leave the house.
  • Online cars and motorway lighting will work in harmony to switch off the lights when there are no cars on that stretch of road.
  • Aircraft will no longer require a black-box, they will constantly stream their flight data and location wirelessly.
  • Second screen applications will become more essential to gain extra information about live events.
  • Live data from sporting events will enhance the experience of fans by involving them in the race. You could even race along with a grand prix!

Tweet us @reconnix with your visions for the next 25 years of the web!