Ed Driscoll

How The Web Was Won

When I first put this site up in early 2002, I included a short piece I wrote in 1998 on the early history of the online world as filler to flesh out the then-meager content. (Before adding 7,500 or so blog posts…)

My timeline ran through the late-1980s. (In retrospect, at least to me, it’s pretty crude looking in comparison to my current output. On the other hand, I’d be pretty disappointed if I looked back on something I wrote seven years ago and thought, “man, I was really dynamite back then. What happened!? Just like playing a musical keyboard, constantly hacking away at the computer keyboard hopefully improves one’s chops in the long run. Hopefully…)

Whoops–sorry for the digression. Back to the topic at hand.

In a recent post, Patrick Ruffini brings the history of the ‘Net up to the present day. He calls it “A Wild Ten Year Ride“, which if anything, an understates how crazy the last decade of online development has been. Why? This may be the key paragraph, which Patrick quotes from Wired magazine’s Kevin Kelly:

What we all failed to see was how much of this new world would be manufactured by users, not corporate interests. Amazon.com customers rushed with surprising speed and intelligence to write the reviews that made the site’s long-tail selection usable. Owners of Adobe, Apple, and most major software products offer help and advice on the developer’s forum Web pages, serving as high-quality customer support for new buyers. And in the greatest leverage of the common user, Google turns traffic and link patterns generated by 2 billion searches a month into the organizing intelligence for a new economy. This bottom-up takeover was not in anyone’s 10-year vision.

Well, except for all the folks who actually went out and did it, of course.