Happy 20th birthday, World Wide Web! On this day, April 30, in 1993 the Web went public for everyone to use and what a game-changer it has been, giving people greater say, letting everyone publish if they please and communicate online.
I got my first computer, an IBM PC, in 1997 and it was so liberating. The Internet Explorer came bundled free with the Windows PC — the Netscape browser had to be bought separately at the time — and I could visit any website for free. There were no paywalls then. None that I recall.
I could even build even my website for free. I soon had my website up for free on Geocities. It was so easy to build. I just had to use the Geocities website builder to get mine up and running. It was a bunch of static pages. I put up my favourite poems on my site. Some pages had more than one poem. I used the anchor tag so the reader could go from one poem to another on the same page.
I can’t remember if there were free analytic tools back then. But occasionally a reader would send me an email. We could have our email addresses on our websites.
And then came Blogger. It was launched in 1999, says Wikipedia. I didn’t remember the year, but I was using it by the time WordPress came up. That was in 2003, says Wikipedia. Again I didn’t remember the year. Pyra Labs, which launched Blogger, sold it to Google in 2003, says Wikipedia. I don’t think that made much of a difference to bloggers who could go on writing and posting online.
I still remember what a pleasure it was seeing my own words appear online. Never mind if nobody read it. Those were my words, sometimes with pictures to go with them. I was a publisher!
Yahoo also allowed users to link to news sites whose latest reports then would be automatically hyperlinked to the Yahoo users’ news pages. It was such a thrill seeing news links from the BBC, CNN, the New York Times appear on my Yahoo page!
There was no Google Reader back then.
Yahoo was one of my favourite websites then because I could use it as a news aggregator.
How things have changed. Now even Google Reader is about to shut down.
But we will still be getting all the information we want in other ways.
Long live the World Wide Web!