Happy birthday to yoooooouu! I’m a week or so late, but I would be
remiss if I didn’t wish a happy birthday to the WWW — the World Wide
Web. Take a deep breath, you need to blow out 25 candles this year.
a quarter of a century after its invention the information superhighway
has become a staple in our lives, much as the telephone or electricity
became a standard part of the lives of our predecessors. Think about it.
How has your communications changed since March of 1989?
back 25 years, I was heavily involved in communication. No, that doesn’t
mean I just talked a lot. I worked in radio, so when I did talk, a lot
of people heard me.
But the technology was all pretty simple.
Either I was working for an FM radio station or an AM radio station. And
if I worked for an AM radio station, my voice faded out when I went
under a bridge. At least that’s what I was told. Both AM and the FM
radio communications exist much as they did 25 years ago, without the
benefit of my golden vocal chords.
Phones can be much the same as
25 years ago. Several people I know still have land lines and a corded
telephone plugged into the wall, which is the way it used to be.
have replaced the corded telephone with a cordless one and added an
automatic answering machine to get messages when they feel too lazy to
answer the phone. Although these options still exist, most people have
moved beyond the 1989 technology and now carry a cellular phone in a
pocket or purse.
The cell phone has taken communication mobile and
caused us to not know anyone’s phone number anymore. It used to be I
had no fewer than 100 phone numbers committed to memory, ready to dial
at anytime. But today, how many phone numbers do you know? I know the
number of two of my three kids.
I can probably come up with a
handful of business numbers I use for work, and maybe a pizza place that
delivers. That’s it. I do not know my wife’s cell phone number. I could
find it if I needed, but all I need to do is push one button on my
phone to contact her. That is, if she’s taking my calls.
also another form of communication that still exists for some people
despite the fact that its usefulness peaked back in the Twentieth
Century. The fax machine is still used by a few people with a stockpile
of thermal paper and stock in telephone companies, but truthfully it is
today’s version of the eight-track tape. The fax machine is as sexy as a
pockmarked octogenarian with overactive sweat glands.
computer can do what the fax does easier and more conveniently, but some
folks are still tied to it, unable to move past the eight-track tape
player to cassettes, CD, or MP3s. If you are one of those people, please
move into the Twenty-first Century soon.
communication change in the past 25 years is, of course, the WWW. In the
80s, a Harris poll showed that only 10 percent of Americans had a
computer and only 14 percent had a modem to send information via
telephone lines. That meant that just 1.4 percent of adults in the
U.S.A. used the Internet.
Contrast to today when 87 percent of
American adults use the Internet. In homes earning $75,000 or more
annually, 99 percent use the WWW. Of adults aged 18-29, more than 97
percent use it. In fact these days, people who won’t use the Internet
exist in the same quantities of those who had no electricity at home two
A recent Pew poll asked people if the Internet
has been a good thing or a bad thing. Of those asked, 90 percent the WWW
has been a good thing for them, but only 76 percent say the Internet
has been a good thing for society. Good for me, but we really can’t
trust everyone, huh?
I can understand that in part. After all,
crime uses communication to get things done too. Imagine what Al Capone
could have accomplished with a smartphone and a wi-fi card. (If you
don’t understand that last sentence, you must still think it’s 1994.)
so we thank the World Wide Web’s inventor (no it’s not Al Gore) Sir Tim
Berners-Lee for taking the data transfer system used mostly by
pockmarked geeks with overactive sweat glands to mass-adopted technology
easily used by hundreds of millions of people around the globe. Cake
for everyone! So turn off Facebook, ebay, YouTube, iTunes, and Twitter,
and grab a fork!