High-Speed Internet happened

What happened in the last decade? High-Speed Internet happened.

As we enter into the next decade of the 21st Century, it is striking to see how the Internet – particularly Internet connection speed, has grown and influenced our world culture. In my opinion, Internet connection speed increasing was the most significant technology in the decade, because it led to everything else.

The real Internet boom was the emergence of high-speed Internet – not the Internet itself.

My very first blog entry was devoted to the beginnings of the Internet, which was technically started in 1990 (although its roots go back to the late 60s). The Web clearly did not come into the national consciousness until late in the last decade.

Remember AOL and “You’ve Got Mail!”? E-mail was the iconic new way of communicating with others, as well as text-chatting/Instant Messaging. Surely if you remember this you also remember the screech of the fax noise that connected you to the AOL server at dial up speed.

In 2000, less than 5% of Americans had a broadband connection. In 2006, still only 42% of households had broadband – or “high-speed” Internet (see compelling link below).

In the early 2000s it took forever for a large image file, such as a digital photo, to download due to dial up and 56k speeds. Until the speed would get faster, we would never have the Internet we have today.

Back then a few other factors were also still in place that were holding back the Internet: geeks/math people (not marketing or sales professionals) were still the developers of web content. Digital photography (and then video, which left film soon after the 35mm camera was made obsolete) was not yet viewed by the mainstream as a new approach to chronicling our lives and behavior, and cell phones only relayed voice (cell phones were not yet with a camera in the US, or with access to the Internet, nor text).

As Internet speed increased suddenly images could be downloaded in real time, and as “a picture is worth 1000 words,” the genie was let out of the bottle. This motivated us to develop robust web content to communicate in a new way, as well as newer (and smaller) communication tools – and we keep pushing the limits.

For instance, my Online Job Tour invention, applied for in 2003, created a new approach to advertising a career opportunity at an employer – as opposed to the text-based classifieds which appeared on job boards (like a newspaper want ad on the computer screen), Online Job Tour was a “recruiting website tool” that brought the onsite interview experience to the jobseeker on a website address. Now an employer can provide all jobseekers with a virtual visit experience that is in many ways better than the real interview trip.

Website design was moving away from the math geeks as web development tools became available to the general public. Concurrent with this was the growth of technology tools and the beginnings of social networking sites – there were many in the early days, but Facebook has emerged as the #3 website in the world with almost 350 million users (Google is #1). Now you can post a photo or video in a snap and the web is clearly replacing TV and the newspaper.

Here are the top search subjects by year:

2001: World Trade Center, Osama bin Laden
2003: Iraq
2004: Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Christina Aquilera, Pamela Anderson
2005: Katrina, MySpace, Wikipedia
2007: iPhone, Facebook, YouTube
2008: Obama, Palin, Fox News
2009: unemployment, bankruptcy, foreclosure

So is the Internet a reflection of us? You tell me.

Internet speed is now creating problems. Because huge image and video files are omnipresent (because they can be viewed and transmitted so easily online now), it is estimated that by the end of the year our world will be producing 1 million gigabytes of information annually – storage will be a challenge. Panning through old and obsolete information and abandoned websites and their old content, will be one of many other challenges.

Today the Internet is not feared like when in the late 1990s and early 2000s we were reluctant to give out our credit card number online. Today the Internet is a real time service to enhance our lives in many ways. Amazon.com, the biggest online retailer, keeps breaking records.

Internet speed is now up to 40 Mb speed from a decade ago – this is like Usain Bolt racing a slug (the slug being dial up Internet). What is possible online is limited only by our imagination. People believe what they see and read online, like TV. College students today cannot remember the days before the Internet. Long distance charges are not just a thing of the past, but today unlimited calling and text plans are the norm.

Regarding the tools we use to access the Internet, they are wireless, portable, getting smaller, and the way we are dealing with others is immediate. 3G networks will be 10G in 3 years. Just like broadband blew up the Internet, wireless speed increasing and the devices which facilitate it is where the most amazing changes will take place in the next decade.

Residential use of the Internet shifted away from dial-up to high-speed access during the mid 2000s. Still, over 40 percent of households had no type of Internet access as of 2005. Residential broadband access rates were estimated to be around 42 percent as of March 2006 (PEW Internet, 2006). http://agecon.okstate.edu/broadband/bb_status_us.asp

To contact me directly, email me at carlbrickman@yahoo.com. I am also on Facebook. Learn more about my work at http://www.onlinejobtour.com/

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