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The web is 6500 days old

Apparently it’s only 6500 days or so since Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. At Christmas in 1990 he initiated the first successful communication between a web client and a server via the Internet and he built the first website in mid-1991 at CERN, where Berners-Lee was then working.

6500 days really doesn’t feel like a very long time (even though it’s about 17 years in real money) and it made me think  about the top innovations over that period that have changed the tech marketers’ perspective and job. It then occurred to me that we should probably ask people who’ve been working over that period for their views, our clients and contacts. We’ll be doing something on that in the next few weeks, but as a first step I thought I’d share what two of them said.

John Watton, Vice President of Marketing at our client ShipServ, offered the following:

“1. Google – Probably done more than most to turn the general public into internet-savvy individuals. Upped the receptiveness of the majority to online interaction.
2. Broadband/Wi-Fi Penetration -  Stay connected everywhere to everyone. Jaw-grinding crackberry addicts, screen-wiping iPhone junkies and now netbook warriors just means more chance for eyeball time with your targets. And lets your customers choose when and where they interact with you. Hopefully we WILL get that work/life balance thing right!
3. Moore’s Law – Brought connectivity to the masses  – who would’ve thought even 5 years ago that memory/storage would no longer be the critical path in bigger and better services. Means B2B audiences are better tooled up than ever and marketers can do interesting/innovative things over the wires.
4. SaaS -  The biggest innovation EVER to reduce the cost of ownership of marketing software infrastructure. No longer do you have to persuade your CEO to spend six figures on that system that MAY just deliver some benefits. And lets face it marketing was never the priority for capital expenditure at the best of times. Now you can subscribe for a matter of a few dollars a month, and pay it on your credit card (almost)!
5. Email – I remember when I got my first email account, and when some people did have email addresses and some didn’t. It was like magic! People forget how amazing it was to originally send messages. Today we’re all overdosed on junk, but is still a powerful tool for marketers to connect with their audiences.”

(Incidentally, John’s submission started  a pretty sad conversation about what were our first purchases on Amazon and iTunes, but that’s for another day.)

We also asked David Frodsham,  formerly CEO of our long-standing client Argogroup (recently acquired by Switzerland’s Ascom). He said:

“The top 5 innovations may be different from the top 5 that have my job easier, but let me try and answer the question as I understand it:

1. The IP protocol -  This has touched and changed many industries, from fixed line telecoms and television, machine to machine management and remote control. It is the way of getting everything and everyone connected all the time. It is changing the way we live and communicate. Always on, always connected means for example that the individuals involved in the recent Mumbai tragedy became the reporters on the front, using Twitter, email and blogs. (Strictly speaking, this is not a web innovation, but an Internet innovation).
2. E-commerce – Originally mistaken as just a new form of mail-order, it is in fact a completely new way of doing business. E-commerce now encompasses price comparisons, product reviews, banking transactions, car boot sales, credit verification, tax returns and much more. It is transforming many large industries such as music and telecoms. Certain products and services are only available through e-commerce (e.g. late filing of tax, pay per view, e-books, airline check in) and that is likely to grow. Again, it affects all or nearly all companies and individuals, giving the consumer more power and more choice than they have ever had.
3. Networking – How do you keep in touch with people you only see occasionally? In the old days it was by Christmas card; more recently by Outlook address book and business card. The arrival of Facebook, LinkedIn, Friends Reunited and others changes the way we stay in touch and communicate with our friends and acquaintances. Flickr! is an example of how a networking tool can apply to more than address books and diary. More significant an innovation than the Christmas card? Perhaps.
4. Communication – Email, instant messenger and more recently Skype are changing the way we communicate and stay in touch. Say no more…
5. Peer to peer knowledge -  “The wisdom of crowds”, the ability to add to a pool of knowledge by working together has enabled the largest encyclopedia in the world to be created (Wikipedia) and Wikis are widely used in business and academia too.(and currently involved in an exciting digital content.”

Any thoughts on what you think the top five innovations over the last 6500 days have been for tech marketers?

One Response to “The web is 6500 days old”

  1. Roger, Online PR Agency, C&M

    Nice one – love those trips down memory lane. For me, the key change was with fixed price broadband and wifi. and this coincided with the dawn of blogging…. which basically meant that content production jumped exponentially – all that blog posting in pajamas around the house, sharing of files, always on… which made the web so much more interesting… personally, this meant reading crazy things on Boing Boing and soaking up a whole lot more influences than just the BBC and various newspapers – and no bill-monitoring. I also made a bunch of new friends in the process….

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