Web Moments That Changed the World

Category: Cool-Stuff

The folks at the Webby Awards are celebrating their 10th anniversary by compiling a list of 10 Web Moments That Changed the World. Some of them I agree are significant, others are ho-hum. And certainly there are some biggies missing from the list. Tell me what you think!

You Never Heard of the Webbys?

That's okay, not too many people have. And those in the know don't seem to give them much street cred. But I digress... Their list of 10 Web Moments That Changed the World is interesting as a retrospective, and inspired me to think about what I'd put on such a list. Here's the list, with some of my own commentary:

  1. The Dotcom Boom and Bust (1995-2001)

    To start the list with a "moment" that spans SEVEN YEARS seems to set the tone that this should be taken with a certain amount of whimsy.

  2. The Drudge Report Breaks Lewinsky Scandal (1998)

    The advent of citizen journalism is a big deal. I fully agree with this pick.

  3. Amazon's Jeff Bezos Named Time's Man of the Year (December 1999)

    I personally wouldn't have given the nod to Bezos as Man of the Year. Why not choose July 1995 when Amazon first opened?

  4. Elections Worldwide (2004)

    Another moment that spans over a year... I remember following the 2000 elections and results very closely online.

  5. September 11th (2001)

  6. Asian Tsunami (2005)

    I'd say this speaks more about the ubiquity of cell phones and digital cameras than of the Internet.

  7. Napster Shut Down (July 2001)

    Hmmm. Rather than its demise, I'd say the advent of Napster and all the peer-to-peer activity that it spawned is much more significant.

  8. Live 8 on AOL (July 2005)

    Live 8? What's that, a new vegetable beverage?

  9. Match.com Booms (2002)
  10. SARS Virus Discovered Online (2003)

    Yes, but the World Wide Web was designed thirteen years earlier for this very purpose -- to help scientists collaborate and share information. So this doesn't strike me as such a big deal.

What's Missing From the List?

I mentioned a few above, and to those I would add the following as noteworthy milestones in the development of the Web that have impacted the world in a major way:

  • Netscape browser (1994) -- perhaps as significant as the transition from radio to television.

  • Internet Telephony (1995) -- the advent of free long distance over the Internet

  • Music Goes Online (1999) -- music tracks in MP3 format are distributed widely online, and portable MP3 players appear.

    I'm sure you can think of others. Please post your comments here -- operators are standing by!

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    Most recent comments on "Web Moments That Changed the World"

    Posted by:

    10 Nov 2005

    Rather than Netscape, how about Mosaic browser. Sure, Netscape _was_ Mosaic in another more robust package, but Mosaic was the original. Jim Clark was so impressed by Mosaic, he convinced Marc Andreessen, a co-author of Mosaic which was developed at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's National Center for Supercomputing Applications, to join with him in a company that would become Netscape. At the time there was friction between Andreessen and the NCSA powers that be, so Andreessen was all to happy to leave, and take his software with him. (NCSA could not copyright software itself. All software was the property of those who programmed it.)

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Certainly Mosaic deserves an important place in the history of the Web, thanks for mentioning it.

    Posted by:

    10 Nov 2005

    November 2005 - Mark Russinovich reports on Sony's use of a rootkit to "protect" their copyright. May not have changed things yet - but it will. See http://www.sysinternals.com/blog/2005/10/sony-rootkits-and-digital-rights.html

    Posted by:

    The Internet Patrol
    10 Nov 2005

    A lawsuit has been filed against Sony, and more are being contemplated as we speak.

    For a plain English write-up of the issue, see:

    And for an article about the lawsuits, see:

    Posted by:

    Raymond L. Kornele
    10 Nov 2005

    How about when Clinton became the new authority on the English language by redefining "is"?

    EDITOR'S NOTE: A humorous moment in political history, but not really a moment that changed the Web. Remember the parameters here...

    Posted by:

    Sharon Whitaker
    22 Nov 2005

    The first "Forward" was sent via email by Harold Ziptrop on Friday, July 29, 1995, thus the start of the decline of the 'hated' fax machine jokes at the office. These jokes, I am sure, were supplied by writers, hired by AT&T, to add revenue to long-distance bottom line. A great moment in Internet history maybe not Web history but I wanted to contribute.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm sure that "forwards" were flying around in the early 90's, but just the fact that it has become a noun bespeaks the impact on our lives -- thanks!

    Posted by:

    07 Dec 2005

    While not really the web, but it is internet related (but everyone mixes up the two anyway - e.g. they include Napster), how about the first spam: http://www.templetons.com/brad/spamreact.html

    EDITOR'S NOTE: True enough on the confusion between the Web and the Internet as a whole. I'll have to do another posting on INTERNET history!

    Posted by:

    21 Mar 2006

    How about Myspace? How many million people sign on to this each day? I believe it is the 4th most visited site on the web. Come on...it's more addictive than crack!

    Posted by:

    22 Jan 2009

    The web site you mention here, "the Webby Awards", is patently a site designed to bring in cash money for the perpetrators of this living joke. The solemnity and unreal aura surrounding this strictly for the money web site really has nothing to do with what's good, bad or hold your nose. It has to do with the owners making a buck. I'd classify it as one of the web's biggest bloat sites on the electron waves. Save your money.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Did I say something nice about the Webbys? Let me go back and check... nope.

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