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A fun, brief overview of the History of the Internet

The History of the Internet is fascinating when you take a bird’s eye view of the timeline – here’s an extremely concise view to give you some insight.

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history of the internet

history of the internet

A history of the internet

My, doesn’t time fly? It seems like only yesterday that we dialed-up to access the World Wide Web, hoping to hear that familiar “you’ve got mail” jingle. Since its early days, the internet, and how it’s used, have transformed tremendously. The Pew Research Center has put together a pretty cool timeline of major moments in the history of the internet. Let’s look at a few highlights:

1989: it was CERN before it was WWW

The internet was first conceived in 1989 as a project of the British scientist Tim Berners-Lee of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). At the time, less than half of American adults had ever even used a computer. CERN considered calling the internet “The Information Mesh” or “The Mine of Information” before settling on “The World Wide Web.”

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The web wasn’t made publicly available until 1993, when CERN essentially donated it to the world. By that time, AOL had established chat rooms and email, and that same year, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications released Mosaic 1.0, which became the first popular web browser. Said Wired magazine, “the web as we know it begins to flourish.”

1996: first phone with web capabilities

The web wasn’t around long before people realized it could be profitable. In 1994 was one of the first known internet purchases – an extra cheese with mushrooms ordered from Pizza Hut’s website, PizzaNet. That same year, the White House under Bill Clinton got its own website, Yahoo was launched, and spam and banner ads became a thing.

In 1995 we begin seeing many sites that are still around today, including the first dating site, Match.com, as well as Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, and GeoCities. Internet Explorer became standard with Microsoft’s Windows packages. The mid-nineties saw a huge upsurge in internet usage, with 77% of online users exchanging emails regularly by 1996 – the same year the Dancing Baby video went viral. That was also the year that Nokia released the first phone with internet capabilities. By 2013, over half of Americans would own a smartphone with internet access.

1999: consumers still use the web mostly for weather updates

But let’s review a few more highlights from the late 90’s, when citizens could watch the Mars lander, Sojourner, rove the red planet (’97), Google launched (also ’97), and Napster sparked an ongoing controversy about internet piracy (’98). Despite the influx of information on the web, by 1999 the 41% of American adults who are online were still mostly using the web to read the weather report.

2005: YouTube’s first video posted was of an elephant

The aughts brought about more ecommerce, more interactivity, and more of the sites we still use today, with Wikipedia launching in 2001, Xbox Live in 2002, and the iTunes music store, Skype, LinkedIn, MySpace, and WordPress all hitting the web in 2003. Facebook and World of Warcraft joined the ranks in ’05. By 2000 nearly half of internet users had made purchases online, and by 2002, 44 percent of people with internet access were using it for work. In 2005 we freed up our phone lines as broadband surpassed dial up, and YouTube posted its first video on co-founder Jawed Karim talking about elephants.

2007: internet used for voting in Estonian elections

The mid-aughts to the modern day was the age of internet access by cell phone, and more of our now-familiar sites began with Twitter in ’06, Groupon in ’08, and Pinterest and Instagram in ‘10. The internet also became a hotbed of political activity. Estonia was the first country to use the internet for voting in its 2007 parliamentary election. In 2010 Wikileaks exposed U.S. diplomatic cables, and in 2013 Edward Snowden made waves by uncovering a massive government data surveillance program. Egyptian revolutionaries promoted their cause via hashtags online in 2011, prompting the government to shut down the internet.

Dive deeper

Check out the full timeline at The Pew Research Center, which calls their timeline a “living document” and welcomes user contributions. Not only will you be wiser, you’ll rock it at your next trivia night!

#InternetHistory

Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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Nate app: $38M Series A fintech startup you should keep an eye on

(TECHNOLOGY) The nate app combines the best of social media and shopping into one platform, streamlining the check-out process for hassle-free purchases.

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African American woman holding iPhone scrolling through the Nate App homepage.

No one likes to hop around from store to store searching aimlessly in aisles for all of their necessary items. That’s why the big guys win, like Walmart, Amazon, and Target – they have all you need in one swoop! Users choosing to shop online feel the same way. Having to reenter payment, billing, and shipping information over and over again becomes a pain – or worse, a deterrent to purchase, resulting in cart abandonment- that’s where the nate app comes in.

Nate combines the best of social media and shopping into one platform.

The well-funded, series A startup utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to complete purchases seamlessly without all of the fluff a user discovers when checking out at various online retailers. Once a user inputs shipping and payment information into the app during sign-up, nate keeps the data on file for subsequent purchases, virtually eliminating the time-consuming check out process. If a user sees a product they like from an online merchant, they simply have to “share” the item to the nate app, and it will take care of the rest.

Unicorner’s startup analysis states, “In essence, nate is bringing the benefits of shopping on a centralized platform like Amazon to a decentralized shopping ecosystem.”

Brown leather wallet with tip of credit card sticking out next to a iPhone showing a shoe purchase on the Nate App.

With a nod to Pinterest and LikeToKnowIt, the platform allows for users to create visual product lists on a personal account that can be shared with followers. If a follower likes an item they see, they can purchase the item in-app in just a click or two.

In contrast to the big wigs of the social media world, the nate app hopes that users will purchase based on true inspiration and not a targeted algorithm suggesting what they should buy. Instead, the app runs its business model on a $1 fee for each transaction which covers the ability to issue virtual cards, protect online privacy, and apply available discounts.

The nate app simplifies gift giving as well. Users are able to select a gift item and enter the recipients phone number – if the recipient is a nate app user, it can be shipped directly – otherwise, they will receive a text asking them where to send their new gift! This makes it a perfect choice for the upcoming holidays (yes, 2021 is almost over…whew).

To stay up to date on everything nate, download it now on the App Store.

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Tech News

Facebook deletes developer over ironic browser extension invention

(TECHNOLOGY) Think a muted week for a nipple shadow is bad? Facebook just permabanned this inventor for…helping others to use the platform less.

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African American hand holding iphone on Facebook's login page.

It must be true that corporations are people because Facebook is pulling some seriously petulant moves.

In a stunt that goes beyond 24hr bans for harmless hyperbole, and chopping away at organic reach (still bitter from my stint in social media management), Facebook straight up permanently banned one of their users for the high crime of…aiming to get people to use the platform a little less.

Developer Louis Barclay came up with Unfollow Everything, an extension that basically instantly deleted your feed without having you unfriend anyone or unlike anything. Rather than have users manually go through and opt out of seeing posts, they’d now opt IN to keeping who they wanted front and center.

In his own words on Slate: “I still remember the feeling of unfollowing everything for the first time. It was near-miraculous. I had lost nothing, since I could still see my favorite friends and groups by going to them directly. But I had gained a staggering amount of control. I was no longer tempted to scroll down an infinite feed of content. The time I spent on Facebook decreased dramatically. Overnight, my Facebook addiction became manageable.”

Since more time spent on Facebook means more ads that you’re exposed to, means more you spend, the add-on started slowly making headway. I myself pretend to be a ranch owner to keep ads as irrelevant to me as possible (though my new addiction to hoof trimming videos is all too real), and Unfollow Everything probably would have been a great find for me if it hadn’t been killed by a cease and desist.

Law firm Perkins Coie, representing the internet giant, let Barclay know in their notice that Unfollow Everything violated the site’s rules on automated collection of user content, and was muscling in on Facebook trademarked IP.

They also added, in what I can only assume was a grade-school narc voice, that the add-on was “encouraging others to break Facebook’s rules.”

Barclay, not having the resources to fight a company with the finances of a small country, promptly ceased and desisted. Practical.

Officially speaking, Facebook might have actually have some ground to stand on vis-à-vis its Terms Of Service. The letter and legal team may have been warranted, not that we’ll ever truly know, since who’s taking Facebook to court? But then they followed up with a ‘neener neener’ deletion of Barclay’s 15 year old account – which was still very much in use.

Look, Facebook is the only way I connect with some of my friends. I don’t take enough pictures to make full use of Instagram, I fully hate Twitter, my Tumblr is inundated with R-rated fanfiction, and any other social media platform I’m happy to admit I’m too haggish and calcified to learn to use. So a complete WIPE of everything there with no notice would be pretty devastating to me. I can only imagine how Barclay felt.

And in light of the fact that the browser extension wasn’t hurting anyone, taking money, or spewing hateful rhetoric, there’s really only one thing to say about Facebook’s actions…they’re petty.

Sure, they may have the legal right to do what they did. It’s just that when you notice every fifth post is an unvetted advertisement, their high ground starts to sink a little. I mean nothing says ‘We’re being totally responsible with user information’ like the number of add ons and user tactics popping up to avoid seeing the unnecessary. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Facebook put up a fight against losing ad traffic.

We all know all those stores with amazing deals aren’t actually going out of business, or even using their own photos right? Right?

Barclay added in his article, “Facebook’s behavior isn’t just anti-competitive; it’s anti-consumer. We are being locked into platforms by virtue of their undeniable usefulness, and then prevented from making legitimate choices over how we use them—not just through the squashing of tools like Unfollow Everything, but through the highly manipulative designs and features platforms adopt in the first place. The loser here is the user, and the cost is counted in billions of wasted hours spent on Facebook.”

Agreed, Mr. Barclay.

Now I’m off to refresh my feed. Again.

 

Graffiti wall with image of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, with the saying "You've been Zucked."

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Tech News

Glowbom: Create a website, using just your voice

(TECH NEWS) Talk about futuristic! This app allows you to create quizzes, surveys, an online store, and even a website in minutes–without typing.

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Colleagues looking at Glowbom website homepage

In the past, we’ve discussed things like simplified coding and no-code app creation. Now, a San Francisco startup has taken the process a step further with no-type app creation.

Glowbom is a voice app that allows you to dictate steps to an AI – from adding information all the way to exporting code–in order to create a simple app, survey, or game. While the built-in options for now are limited to four simple categories, the power of the app itself is impressive: By asking the Glowbom AI to complete tasks, one is able to dictate an entire (if small) program.

It’s an impressive idea, and an even more impressive product. Glowbom founder and CEO Jacob Ilin showcases the power of Glowbom in a short demonstration video, and while he only uses it to create a simple survey, the entire process–up to and including the exportation of the API–is accomplished via voice commands.

Furthermore, Glowbom appears to process natural inputs–such as phrases like “Let’s get started”–in the context of an actual command rather than the colloquial disconnect one tends to expect in AI. This means that users won’t need to read a 700-page manual on phrases and buzzwords to use before jumping on board–something the Glowbom user base was probably hoping to avoid anyway.

As of now, the options one can use Glowbom to create include a quiz, a survey, an online store, and a website. It seems reasonable to expect that, as support for the app grows, those categories will expand to comprise a larger library.

Glowbom certainly opens a few doors for people looking to take their businesses or ideas from an offline medium into the digital marketplace. As coding becomes less centralized in computer language and more contingent on processes such as this, we can expect to see more products from folks who may have missed the coding boat.

Perhaps more importantly, Glowbom and products like it make coding more accessible to a wider base of disabled users, thus taking a notable step toward evening the playing field for a marginalized demographic. It’s not true equality, but it’s a start.

This story was first published here in October 2020.

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