On this day 30 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee presented a gloomy title "Information Management" to his superior in the European physics laboratory CERN.
It started with asking how future scientists could follow their ever larger projects. "This proposal provides an answer to such questions," he wrote.
The proposal described what would change in the World Wide Web in a few years: a connected information sharing system that would revolutionize how the entire planet communicated.
At that time, connected computer networks had been in use for several decades, active and growing. People had sent emails, displayed shared files, message boards, and even created the first emoticons.
But only when the World Wide Web came, did the internet really get off the ground. Web browsers, web pages & hyperlinks made information easy to find and move, and because the core code was open source, everyone could create their own browser or website.
Large parts of the web have come and gone in the last 30 years. They have made us laugh and cringe, let us waste time and find friends, and reform the world in the process.
For his birthday we look back on some of our favorite websites, from A to Z, and on some important people and technologies. Of course there was far too much good to record, so we had to notice some extra favorites along the way.
The web quickly became an important place to shop, and nothing better than Amazon. What started as an online bookstore quickly expanded and quickly consumed a lot of the physical and physical brands that we knew and loved. These days, using Amazon is a bit inevitable: it's a voice assistant, it's the cloud that drives many of the sites you use, it's a gourmet supermarket chain, and it's the site that you use to buy pretty much anything. Ironically, it is also learned from old rivals and has opened many physical stores.
Other favorites: Angelfire, America Online installation discs
From cat GIF & # 39; s to personality quizzes to & # 39; The Dress & # 39; BuzzFeed was one of the defining sounds of early digital media, and it was good at what it wanted to do: create viral content. The disrespectful voice caused a wave of copycat sites, enough to create a whole industry of online media for millennials who begged to be parodyed. Yes, it certainly was. The onion launched his satire website ClickHole, a pitch-perfect, bizarro version of clickbait sites and in BoJack Horseman, Diane works on one BuzzFeed-like website called "Girl Croosh."
Other favorites: Badgers, Blogger
Cascading Style Sheets made it easier to create beautiful and useful web pages by separating what a page looked like and how a page was assembled in HTML. More importantly, CSS made it easier to learn how to create beautiful and useful web pages: you could use a browser to inspect the code of a site and mess around with the entire page, changing everything with just a little. (Shout-out to Microsoft for early CSS support on Microsoft for destroying the life of web coders everywhere with its weird box model and other broken CSS implementations. Encoding to specific browsers is still one thing, but at least it's not as bad as it once was. Go ahead and change a font on your favorite webpage today, just because you can.
Other favorites: Craigslist, cat video & # 39; s
Computers were born on the World Wide Web and the World Wide Web became Twitter, which so graciously provided us with the wonders of Weird Twitter. Dril, those classics like & # 39; I'm not owned! & # 39; I am not an owner !!, I continue to insist as I slowly shrink and turn into a corncob "has played an important role in defining what it means to be online. Last year they published their best tweets through a groundbreaking, eponymous And just like Dril, we will all continue to ignore the advice of our loved ones and refuse to log out, forever.
Other favorites: Digg, DeviantArt
Sitting somewhere between Amazon's professional storefront and the complete free Craigslist, eBay has cemented itself as the place to buy virtually everything second-hand online. Few online marketplaces sell your aftermarket auto parts as well as second hand clothes, and yet eBay somehow finds a place for everyone, and there are plenty of users (and now companies) that you actually own have a good chance to find the obscure item you need. Nowadays eBay & # 39; s outdated interface is often under the weight of catering for absolutely everyone, but the catalog is just as weird and wonderful as ever.
Other favorites: eBaum & # 39; s World, Etsy
It was 2004: we had digital cameras & proto-social media sites such as Myspace and Friendster, but there was no real way to share photos. Then Flickr came around and changed everything. It was a great feeling to upload a huge series of photos from a backpacking trip, share it with friends and relive the experience of waking up in tents in the shade of a glacier with a click on the button. You could do it through the clean, attractive interface of Flickr and without all the clutter and noise that was typical of early Aughts websites. Flickr was a digital gallery, an online photography museum for both professionals and amateurs. It seems to be shrinking these days, but it will always lurk big in influence.
Other favorites: Fark, Flash games
Close your eyes and present your dream GeoCities page. Maybe it has a shimmering clip or a tiled background because you couldn't find an image large enough to fill the screen without making it all stretchy and weird. But while you decide, you might be able to place a GIF from a construction worker with a helmet and a "under construction" sign so that visitors know something good awaits you. Don't forget to participate in a web ring when you're done.
Other favorites: Google Reader, GIF & # 39; s
The web has not invented e-mail that has patched it for at least 20 years. Webmail, however, made e-mail easy to use and widely accessible. Hotmail was launched in 1996 as one of the first webmail sites that anyone could sign up as an alternative to the offer of their ISP. The early web was so nerd that the founders of Hotmail – Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith – chose the name because it contained the reference to HTML ("HoTMaiL"). Hotmail usage exploded after it was purchased by Microsoft in 1997.
Other favorites: HTML, hashtags
It would take longer than your life to consume a significant portion of the 20 million books, 4.9 million movies, 5.1 million audio recordings, and 410,000 pieces of software from the internet archive, including a lot of classic games, all of which available for free. But they all pale in comparison to the most important thing that the internet archive archives: the internet itself. There is no better place to see what the internet looked like – and to expose things that were long forgotten – than the 349 billion web pages stored in the Wayback Machine of the Internet archive. (You can thank it for most screen shots on this page.)
Other favorites: Image macro & # 39; s
Jennifer Ringley began broadcasting every moment she spent in her dormitory, in the form of grainy photos that were uploaded every 15 minutes in 1996. She was one of the first people to share her life online without a filter, with a sense of intimacy and relatibility that we now take for granted with digital celebrities. She was also one of the first people to discover the pitfalls of internet fame, including burnout after the live years of her public life, and therefore she has remained largely offline since 2003 when Jennicam went dark.
Other favorites: JSTOR, Java on the Brain
The internet is an endless proliferation of extremely good memes that constantly mutate, remix and change. Know that you describe Meme's chronicle and get order out of that chaos.
Other favorites: kottke.org
There was once (around the turn of the century) a social network called LiveJournal where large numbers of people (some with very confusing pseudonyms) hung around, blogged, discussed in long commentary threads, posted fiction and poetry and art, and generally had a good time . In 2007, LiveJournal was sold to a Russian media company and many of its original contributors eventually disappeared to Facebook, Twitter and other foreign locations. LiveJournal is still, well, live; his servers (and the user agreement) are now Russian and that also applies to many of his users.
Other favorites: Last.fm, Liquid Swords tweet
The accessibility of the web led to a fan-fiction renaissance, which inevitably generated a lot of anxious and indulgent fantasies from teenagers and in turn deliberately dreadful parodies of those fantasies. The fascinating thing about it My immortal is that nobody knows for sure what it was. Has a teenager named Tara Gilesbie filled up malapropism Harry Potter fan story about a mall gothic vampire witch named "Ebony Dark & Dementia Raven Way?" Was Tara herself a fictional creation? Or was My immortal a serious project that descended into trolls? A so-called & # 39; real & # 39; The author came up with a memoir in 2017, but the publisher discovered that she had invented large parts of the story – just adding more layers to the mystery.
Other favorites: MapQuest, Movable Type
Destroying the threat that the late costs of Blockbuster would have been legendary enough, but Netflix also managed to quickly transform from a DVD rental service to a fully digital streaming service that thoroughly redefined how and where we watch movies and TV . Netflix is now entangled in popular culture. The phrase "Netflix and chilling" has become a meme, and it is now a safe bet that you can engage in a conversation with an acquaintance about the latest original shows to perform on the service. Streaming services will be available in 2019 and Netflix is at the top.
Other favorites: Newgrounds, Neopets
When online dating went to the mainstream, OkCupid lowered us with an endless stream of goofy (and very important) quizzes. The compatibility measures of the site have since gone out of style in favor of simple swiping, but there was always something about the quirky approach of OkCupid that made the site and its users feel like they were joking about the inherent inconvenience of getting to know them a stranger.
Other favorites: Oh Joy Sex Toy, The onion
How would society ever have evolved without Pornhub? We are probably diving through garbage containers in search of thrown-away porn writers such as horny little pizza rats, desperate to chase our booty against the gleaming of spectators. Yes, there are cultural drawbacks to the fact that so much porn is available for free. But Pornhub has also encouraged people to fly their crazy flags. It, and sites such as it, have helped many to find kinship around their peculiar fetishes since the site was launched in 2007 with a "Niches" section. What started as a place to view dirty photos is now one of the most visited sites on the web.
Other favorites: PostSecret, The Pirate Bay
The facts are these: QWOP is a game; it was created by the moral philosopher, game designer and former Cut Copy bass player Bennett Foddy 11 years ago; and it is devilishly difficult. The game is not about winning or losing. It is more a meditation about reward, punishment and how much you are willing to endure. QWOP may not have been the nicest Flash game, but it was one of the few that enabled you to really feel anything that went beyond the pure button.
Other favorites: Quora, quizzes
Digg came first, but it was Reddit who managed to create a user-managed news site around vibrant communities interested in everything from cat photos to advice on financing beauty products. The self-described & # 39; front page of the internet & # 39; is also the place where people go to relax, discover oddities and find them as ghosts. That was sometimes a problem, and Reddit is still dealing with the repercussions, but the site has become a fixed value, and there is nothing else that looks like this.
Other favorites: RSS, Rickroll
The great thing about Strong Bad is that you don't have to know anything. The humor speaks for itself: a cartoon anti-hero in a Lucha Libre mask sardonically answers his fan mail in the conceivable lowest-fi text interface. But in the early 2000s it was anything but low-tech. The animated Flash webcartoons jumped off the screen in a way that very few things could do on the web. The Strong Bad Email series was popular at a time when the web was small enough to create your own memes – including & # 39; Trogdor the Burninator & # 39 ;, an instant death metal classic that eventually found its way to Guitar Hero II.
Other favorites: StumbleUpon, spacejam.com
When Tim Berners-Lee came up three decades ago with what he thought would be a global system for knowledge and data exchange between research institutions, this was not called the World Wide Web; it was just "Mesh." The WWW project was ambitious and exciting from the start, yes, but even the inventor could hardly have foreseen the later explosion of using the web for private and commercial purposes.
Tim Berners-Lee continues to play a role in driving the development of the web through the World Wide Web Consortium, which sets universal standards such as HTML5, and the World Wide Web Foundation, which advocates a free and open web. As a proponent of net neutrality, Berners-Lee can be seen most by leveraging his fame to persuade governments and international organizations to maintain the original sense of collaboration on the web.
Other favorites: Tumblr, Trojan Room Coffee Pot
The Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is the non-glamorous set of codes on which this entire web building is built. One thing does not exist on the web without an address string to identify the location. Like most things related to the internet, the URL was never designed for the ultimate ubiquity that it has achieved. Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee admitted that there was no technical necessity for the double slash on the front of each URL, and he would get rid of it if he could go back in time.
Other favorites: Urban dictionary
vBulletin was not the first or only software to run web forums, but it was a favorite. Even in the age of Facebook, forums are still an essential layer of the web. They are places where specific communities come together to talk, argue and (unfortunately) plot. vBulletin made it easier to create, manage, and moderate those & # 39; s communities. A devious institution called "Tachy Goes to Coventry" placed a user on a general ignore list without warning them that nobody saw what they were typing. It is an effective moderation technique because sometimes it was easier to make someone scream in a void than to tell them to shut up.
Other favorites: Vine, vlogs
You would simply use Wikipedia & # 39; the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit & # 39; can call it, but that is undermining the impact. Wikipedia is a living reflection of modern culture. Since its launch in 2001, it has gone from shorthand: "don't trust the internet" (kids, don't quote Wikipedia in your homework!) To an arbiter of truth (kids, look Wikipedia before you decide that the moon landing was a hoax!) . The hypertext structure encourages intellectual curiosity – perhaps a bit too much actually. (We would link to the Wikipedia page of Wikipedia, but you have three more entries to read and we don't want you to click on links for the next hour.)
Other favorites: WordPress, Web 2.0
XKCD has only existed since 2006, but you can hardly imagine that there was ever an internet without it. It is described as & # 39; a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language & # 39; that covers a whole range of topics and lends itself to the classic saying of & # 39; there is a relevant XKCD for everything & # 39; . Anonymous stick figures make it easy to project us into the comics, whether it's individual panels or gigantic companies that lead you through a click-and-drag adventure.
Other favorites: Xanga, XML
Search engines built the web and Yahoo was one of the first, largest and longest to survive. Yahoo became the homepage of the web for many, delivered news, markets, sports and more, and placed a link to your Yahoo mailbox on the same page. The Yahoo homepage is still one of the most visited sites on the web, even though its influence has diminished. The company was taken over by Verizon two years ago and it is notorious to let Flickr languish. (It could certainly have been better by Tumblr.)
Other favorites: YTMND, YouTube
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