This past March marked the 25th anniversary of the registration of the first dot-com domain. According to PCWorld.com, it was over a month before the second dot-com was registered and the 100th dot-com registration didn’t take place until 20 months later. Now, the BBC says that 668,000 dot-coms are registered every month. Looking back on the evolution of the Internet, particularly how we use it to communicate with each other, it is truly amazing how far we have come.
My first experience with e-mail dates back about 15 years to my undergrad days at DePaul University in the mid-1990s. It is almost laughable how clunky and user-unfriendly it was. It wasn’t until I joined AAII in 1997 and got an America Online AOL account—along with its ubiquitous “Welcome! You’ve Got Mail” sound clip—that I got my first real taste of “modern” e-mail.
In 1996, the next chapter in online communication opened when Mirabilis launched ICQ, shorthand for “I seek you.” This ushered in the era of real-time, one-on-one chatting—typically referred to as instant messaging. AOL eventually acquired Mirabilis and ICQ in 1998. Although instant messaging allowed people to communicate in real time, it still required both parties to be at a computer (this was before the days of smart phones and Wi-Fi).
With the dawn of the 21st century the proverbial cord was cut, as text messaging over wireless devices took off in popularity. According to CTIA—The Wireless Association, over 1.5 trillion text messages were sent by U.S. users alone in 2009.
While text messaging continues to be a popular means of mobile communication, “social media” is the latest online phenomenon. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare (a geo-tagging service that allows you to “check-in” to let people know where you are) are once again changing the way people interact with each other.
Social media is also impacting the way we conduct business and learn. To promote Computerized Investing, I have created a Twitter account, a Facebook page and have recently launched a blog. With social media tools, I am able to interact with members of the online community, sharing my thoughts and opinions on topics related to investing and computing.
Even if you don’t consider yourself overly computer savvy, the Web itself is becoming more user-friendly as Web developers embrace “Web 2.0.” The term Web 2.0 describes Web applications that facilitate interactive, collaborative or social sharing of information, as well as user-centered design. AAII is taking its first steps into the realm of Web 2.0 with the redesign of our website (see our AAII.com column beginning on page 8).
As it becomes easier to interact with each other, the opportunity to share knowledge grows. From discussion boards and wikis to Facebook Fan Pages and Twitter feeds, the potential to learn and educate is one of the most exciting elements of this thing we call the World Wide Web.