The Incredible Lightness of Web Surfing

August 3, 2010 · 12 comments

Ten years ago most of us were gleefully pulling information from the web, or as it was then called, surfing the web. It is human nature to think that whatever you are doing today will last forever, or at least until your next birthday. My dubious unscientific studies show that if your life were measured in Internet years it would span less than a single second.

Twitter and Facebook are not the first, nor will they be the last overnight time wasters successes. Instead of push or pull it may be yank, jerk or tumble technology. Wait, they’ve already done that.

In the 1990s both Microsoft and Apple started a style of push technology. Instead of actively looking for a website – pull technology – push technology was a request initiated from a server. Think in terms of RSS feeds or email, both push systems – push is information automatically sent to you. Looking back a few years, you could turn the Windows 98 desktop into a website page that auto-updated.

For every loss there is a gain, for every gain there is a loss.

As far as desktop push, it was a major flop. It was ousted around 2000 by RSS, another push technology. RSS, for those who understand it, will not go away any time soon. Neither will email (even as many are barking that email is dead), instant messaging or blogging.

Some folks think the Internet should be cataloged like a library. Instead of writing a dry history of it, The Wayback Machine,  part of the Internet Archive, actively keeps records of over 150 billion web pages built since 1996. If you had a website, or know someone who did, you can have a look at it as it was in yesteryear. I am always amazed at the speed of technology changes on the WWW. Here is Yahoo in 1996. Ah, the clean uncluttered look, the white space with no popups is refreshing.

Did you think Twitter was relatively new? Here is Twitter à la March 2001.
The giant that folded in on itself, AOL Dec 20, 1996.
My business site June 2001 Midwest PC Systems - Defunct by the end of the year.
The first domain registered was

And finally, the website of the world’s first-ever web server.
Be sure to look at the info tab on this site. For example: Every 5 years, it is expected that the number of devices online will double.
For every gain there is a loss, for every loss there is a gain.

What do you think has been lost, and what has been gained over the last 15 years?

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Randy Murray August 3, 2010 at 5:14 pm

I love the wayback machine, but I keep wishing it were more complete. I search for sites I built and lost track of and it’s really hit and miss.

I’ve been an Internet user since 1985. It seems eternal, but it’s only just the beginning!
Randy Murray´s last blog ..Prediction 2- Computers Will Disappear – Literally

Randy Murray August 3, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Oh, and here’s my site from 1995 (the wayback has the 1996 version). http://web.archive.org

Note that it was designed for a MUCH smaller screen size!
Randy Murray´s last blog ..Prediction 2- Computers Will Disappear – Literally

Hal Brown August 3, 2010 at 5:41 pm

The Wayback machine is an ongoing project – I too have found a few sites that didn’t come up, or parts (especially graphics) are missing.

Cassie Wallace August 3, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I feel the same about the Wayback machine – the lack of image archiving on smaller sites is also disappointing, but hey – it’s still an awesome and fun tool.

Karen Black August 3, 2010 at 8:44 pm

This is an interesting article. Thanks.

Kissie August 8, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Oh my goodness, Hal, you took us back! I can’t believe Twitter was around in ’01.
Kissie´s last blog ..Name That Blogger QuizMy ComLuv Profile

Hal Brown August 9, 2010 at 6:23 am

I didn’t realize that either. Wonder what else we don’t know? :)

Missy August 9, 2010 at 7:15 am

Can it really be possible that Twitter was around in 2001? And Hal, my new website? It will be designed, in part, compliments of your ebook! Thanks. Except I might do something different than Wordpress. We’ll see.

Hal Brown August 10, 2010 at 5:59 am

Looking forward to your site. And thanks, I’m glad it helped, even a little.

Jonathan Elliot August 9, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Nice post :) I’ve been using the net for long enough that I can remember boring grey web pages as standard. And no ads! I was dismayed when ads came along, now they are ubiquitious and I don’t notice them or block them with software.


Jonathan from Spritzophrenia

Hal Brown August 10, 2010 at 6:01 am

Subtle changes are like the slowly boiling frog story. Its here before we understand what’s going on.
Thanks Jonathan.

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