The Internet era was born around 20 years ago, when Netscape went public in August of 1995 and caught the world by storm with its highly successful IPO. For many people, myself included, the Netscape IPO marked the passage of the Internet from a network primarily used by universities, research labs and the technical community in general, to the universal platform for content, communications and commerce it’s since become.
The Internet ushered the rise of a highly connected economy all around us, whose magnitude and implications were nicely captured by NY Times columnist Tom Friedman in his 2005 bestseller The World is Flat. But it’s a measure of how fast things are changing that, as Friedman observed in a conference in 2011, the environment he described was already out of date. In a short 6 years, we were already transitioning from the connected world of PCs, browsers and web servers he wrote about, to the hyperconnected world of smart mobile devices, cloud computing and broadband wireless networks, a transition that in 2015 is now in full swing.
Friedman’s words came to mind as I was reflecting on the evolution of blogging since I posted my first blog in May of 2005.
According to Wikipedia, something like blogging got its start with the advent of the Internet era in the mid 1990s, although the term weblog, later abbreviated to blog, didn’t come into being until the latter part of the decade. In its early years, blogging was mostly viewed as something geeks did, - technical knowledge was required since the tools were fairly primitive, - or as a narcissistic endeavor, - early blogs often felt like online personal diaries.
This all started to change in the early 2000s. The advent of easy-to-use tools and platforms brought blogging to a much larger, non-technical population. People started to blog about a wide variety of topics, from politics and journalism to business and technology. Internal company blogs, only accessible to employees, began to appear. By the mid 2000s, blogging was growing quite rapidly and had made its way from the fringes to the Internet mainstream.