25 greatest things from 25 years of the World Wide Web

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The World Wide Web is officially 25 years old today, but what has the internet given us over the last quarter of a century? We took time out to reflect on the 25 greatest things from the last 25 years.

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We asked the Stickyeyes team just what they felt were the greatest things that 25 years of the internet have given the world. Once we filtered out some of the unpublishable responses, we came up with 25 ways in which the WWW has made the world a better place.

1. Google

SteveLeeWho could have imagined that Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two university students with little experience of HTML, would go on to produce a brand that is now an integral part of our daily lives?

Google has completely changed the way in which we consume information, discover new ideas and live our lives – often in ways that we hardly realise.

Steve Lee, Operations Director.

2. Google Maps

PhoebeDixonGoogle Maps is undoubtedly the most popular web mapping service application and technology, and has revolutionised how we navigate and find places.

Plenty of brands have helped us get from point A to point B (remember Multimap?), but Google took that one step further by seamlessly integrating business data, photographing almost every street in every major city and making that data available, for free, to other publishers.

Phoebe Dixon, Creative Executive.

3. Freedom of speech

MartinCarterThe internet has given people a voice, and brought worldwide attention to some of the world’s biggest political scandals.

Twitter was instrumental in the Iran Election protests in 2009 and governments around the world live in fear of publications such as WikiLeaks and the many powerful political blogs that exist today.

The recent Winter Olympic Games in Sochi have demonstrated that brands also have to be wary of what they associate themselves with for fear of an online backlash.

The web has also brought politicians and corporations to account like never before. With more publishers, more information is able to leak out, free from manipulation or censorship. It wasn’t a major news publication that broke the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1998 – it was a little known blog known as The Drudge Report.

Martin Carter, Creative Manager.

4. Consumer Power

JoshMannThe internet has made consumers more informed, and more powerful, than ever before. Trip Advisor has been a huge influence on the travel and leisure industry, giving consumers the power to really influence the way in which businesses behave.

Price comparison sites have made it easier than ever for consumers to ensure that they are getting a good deal on everything that they buy, whilst consumer advocates, such as Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert have really made brands think about how they communicate and attract consumers.

Josh Mann, Marketing Executive.

5. Connecting people from around the world

JamieShieldsDigital innovations have made worldwide communications easier than ever before. Innovations such as VoIP, Facebook, Twitter, video conferencing and a host of other social networks have made social networking and global business accessible to everyone.

From families communicating around the globe on Skype, through to gamers doing battle on their nex-gen consoles, the web has succeeded in making the world that little bit smaller.

Jamie Shields, Web Developer.

6. The sound of my modem

StickyEyes080612-1279- 62“Grrr…brrr….derrrr….bzzzzzzz” – the unmistakable soundtrack to the internet in the 90s.

I’ll never forget my early internet experiences – dialling up to a Freeserve server on a 56k modem, waiting four days for an MP3 to download and my mother yelling at me to “get off the line” so that she could use the telephone.

Happy times.

Michael Hewitt, Content Marketing Manager.

7. Media on Demand

GregMeekSurely video on demand is the future of TV? We are already seeing mainstream broadcasters looking to change the way that they deliver content into ‘online only’ channels, most notably with BBC Three, and this style of ‘on demand’ media distribution is likely to become the norm in the future.

Users have really embraced the idea of consuming media on their terms – when they want, on the device that they want.

Greg Meek, Head of Design and Development.

8. Wikipedia

JonathanArgileWikipedia, for all of its faults, really demonstrated the power of crowdsourcing. Before long, Wikipedia had replaced established encyclopediae like Encarta and Britannica.

By opening itself up to the masses and allowing huge content generation on a wider range of subjects, Wikipedia became the source of choice for university students around the world!

Jonathan Argile, SEO Lead.

9. LOLcats

James CollinsRikKendallWithout doubt, the best known meme. They may be nauseating, they may be puerile, but they are an internet phenomenon.

And LOLcats have been a source of good – in Australia, the Animal Welfare League turned rescue cats into ‘LOLcat’ images in an attempt to increase the number of cats being adopted.

James Collins, Digital Strategy Manager & Rik Kendell, Front-End Developer.

10. Open Source collaboration

THOMAS HUTSON_Stickyeyes_2013Open source projects have dramatically increased the speed of technological advances. From web based technology through to advances in science and healthcare, open source collaboration has allowed great minds from around the world to come together and improve things for the better.

You only need to look at the popularity of platforms like WordPress, or the growth of programs such as Firefox, to see how open source collaboration is challenging the status-quo and helping to make internet tools better and better.

Tom Hutson, Off Site Executive & Graham McDonnell, Senior Designer.

11. Love

MartinCarterWhilst it may have had something of a stigma, the internet is a romantic place. More than a third of newly married couples in the US first met online and the online dating industry continues to grow. When you look at the hype around social apps like Tinder, there can be no denying that the web and social media is really bringing people together!

Martin Carter, Creative Manager.

12. Consumers are involved in the production process

JoshMannThe games industry is a fantastic example of how the web has allowed consumers to before a huge part of the production process.

Games producers can easily release beta products and teasers, allowing consumers to feedback on products in advance, whilst digital distribution has meant that producers can release products incomplete, allowing consumers to get their hands on products more quickly.

Microsoft patched Dead Rising 3 for the XBOX One with a 14 GB update on launch day, allowing them to improve the product even after it has been sold.

Josh Mann, Marketing Executive.

13. The cloud

MatthewShieldsWe have heard a lot about ‘the cloud’, but this really has changed the way in which people work.

With services such as Dropbox, I can access my digital files from any of my devices, anywhere I need them. That is a big improvement on having to invest in expensive hardware or carrying around a bag full of disks or USB drives.

Matthew Shields, Designer.

14. News at your finger tips

JamieShieldsBefore the Internet, the only way that you would know about the football scores affecting your team was via the one bloke in the stands who had a pocket radio – or waiting until you got home to Match of the Day.

Whether it is something as trivial as a football score or a major, breaking news story,  the web has changed the way in which we consume news – something that traditional publications are still struggling to adapt to.

Jamie Shields, Front End Developer.

15. A new breed of political satire

SE 65With Spitting Image no longer on our screens, it was left to Private Eye to provide our political satire. But then the internet took hold of the idea.

Who can forget those spoof billboards of David Cameron’s ridiculously airbrushed forehead or the mocking of the Iraqi information minister, ‘Comical Ali’?

Lisa Wisniowski, Brand Communications Director.

16. Email

JonathanHemingwayIt is something that we take for granted, and is arguably something that has become one of the world’s biggest annoyances, but it is something that we use every day.

By allowing us to transmit information and documents in real time, it is little wonder that email has replaced traditional communication formats when transmitting anything from business memos to airline tickets.

And who doesn’t have an old Hotmail address that they no longer use?

Jonathan Hemingway, Off Site SEO Team Manager.

17. Smartphones & 3G phone networks

ChrisWalshWithout the internet to create the demand, we would have never seen smartphones.

Not that long ago, it was normal to go three days without returning a call on a house phone but today, my two-year-old niece can return a call almost instantly!

As the use of 2nd Gen phones became widespread, it was inevitable that demand would grow for faster speeds and greater bandwidth. 3G changed the way in which we accessed mobile data and unsurprisingly, the demand from consumers is now for even faster download speeds.

Chris Walsh, Inside Sales Representative.

18. Tracing family history

torresThe internet has ignited a huge interest in tracing family history. Genealogy has gone from being a small hobby to a huge industry that millions of people are now actively engaged with.

Millions of records are now available at the click of a mouse and given people a huge window into the history of their family tree.

Mosiah Torres, Off Site SEO Executive.

19. The power of self-publishing

StickyEyes080612-1279- 62Self-publishing took on a completely new form with the advent of the internet. Today, anyone can become a blogger, a music producer, a film maker, a radio DJ or a best-selling author. Just ask E.L James, the author of the self-published 50 Shades of Grey.

The internet completely changed the power that publishers had over content and ideas. Today, we aren’t just restricted to content that a publishing house decided was commercially viable, or arguments that didn’t fit a particular agenda. Instead, we can consume almost any content that we want.

Michael Hewitt, Content Marketing Manager.

20. Online Shopping

GregMeekThe internet has meant that I can buy and sell anything I want, at any time I want, from anywhere in the world that I want. That might be something that we take for granted but it is a huge step change in the way that we do business – one that has sadly claimed many retailers that were slow to adapt.

Online shopping was one of the key drivers of internet adoption as it became more accessible and that has created some truly huge global brands.

Greg Meek, Head of Design and Development.

21. Video & Music Streaming

PaulHuggettVideo and music streaming services such as Spotify, Last.fm and YouTube have fed the insatiable demand for media that is accessible on demand.

It many have claimed some high profile scalps in the process, most notably HMV and Virgin Megastore, but it made it possible for publishers to get themselves heard and allowed the public to access new music. The charts have never been more diverse and that, undoubtedly, is thanks to the accessibility of digital music.

Paul Huggett, Strategic Planning Director.

22. Changing the way we learn

James PierechodThe way in which we learn has fundamentally changed, to the point where the availability of information is encouraging people to question and think deeply about information that is put before them.

The process of learning, or knowledge production is blooming, when any fact, opinion, or statistic is now openly searchable and available through the internet. Such cultural shifts have facilitated new modes of thinking, new ways of knowledge communication and new rules for imparting this information.

James Pierechod, Multimedia Designer.

23. Horrific web design

JonnyBriggsFrom the old Geocities sites through to some truly terrible Myspace pages, terrible websites are often remembered with a tinge of fondness and nostalgia.

Which is why I’m so fond of Lingscars.com – a site that breaks every UX and conversion optimisation rule in the book. It defies convention, and even logic, but it is still a successful and highly persuasive business.

Jonny Briggs, Insights Manager.

24. A new breed of entrepreneurship

DavidLearmontThe internet has fostered a new type of entrepreneurship. One that is collaborative, global and offering real consumer choice.

From a host of new brands that are using the power of technology to challenge the long established businesses and create new industries, such as P2P money lending, through to crowd funding sites such as Kickstarter, the way in which people create new businesses, and even new industries, has changed dramatically.

Remarkable business ideas are now coming to the fore and getting the support that they deserve.

David Learmont, Creative Executive.

25. “Gangnam Style”

Stickyeyes 2013How else could an unknown South Korean rapper become a global superstar? Gangnam Style may have become one of the most irritating music videos of all time, but it is also the most viewed of all time on YouTube. That is the power of the internet.

Dale Richardson, Off-Site SEO Lead.

Do you have any other fond memories of #www25? Let us know via Twitter or in the comments section.

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