Ten Years of the Internet?The Guardian
is celebrating ten years of the internet, a word so ubiquitous that it's now lower case. Actually, according to this Wikipedia entry
on its founder, Tim Berners-Lee, the World Wide Web is a bit older.To understand the extraordinary revolution that swept the world so quickly, existing users need simply to imagine what life would now be like without email (on which corporate life depends), search engines such as Google, web companies such as Amazon, eBay and Yahoo, the ongoing explosion of online commerce, not to mention the burgeoning world of personal journals (blogs), downloaded music and films, free newspapers, web cameras, internet telephony and the growing convergence of the net and mobile phones.
And spam, spyware, porn and bigotry.
Ten years ago we were in the last throes of the Suharto-era. Life was good in that incomes were on a par with the west and I could afford return tickets to the UK. Actually, I mean 'from' as I paid for Son no.1 to pay me regular visits.
Arranging these meant using snail mail and long-distance phone calls, but we managed. And then along came the Asian krismon
and the shocking, yet enervating, events which resulted in Suharto's forced abdication which we watched on TV.
We were marooned on our urban island, bordered as we are by the River Ciliwung, a toll road, a railway and a major route into town. For a week we went nowhere, apart from our bank to empty our account, just in case. The phone was our link to the outside and we were able to keep in touch with friends and the British embassy where the Reveller
was helping to man the phones.
I'd just started a letter to Son no.1 which then turned into a daily chronicle of unfolding events. It was after this euphoric phase in our lives (albeit disastrously traumatic for thousands caught up in the riots, arson and looting) that I first bought a modem and was able to instantly link up to the outside world.
I don't want those events to reoccur, but I do somewhat regret that blogging hadn't been 'invented'. Still, I suppose I did my bit post-tsunami.
All in all, I applaud Tim Berners-Lee
. We all should as there are a lot of good people out there sharing ideas, opinions and their creativity so thereby creating a world with fewer barriers.
Now, if only the Indonesian telecommunications industry could get its act together ?..