On 12 March 1989, while working at CERN, Tim Berners-Lee proposed “a universal linked information system”. Today we call this the World Wide Web and it has just turned 25.

It is often hard to remember life before the internet; before the outbreak of cat videos on sites like YouTube; before the majority of arguments were settled by a swift Google search.  The internet is so integrated into our lives that it is easy to believe that everyone has it, but this is not the case. According to a survey in 1995, 42% of US adults had never heard of the internet and only 14% had access to it[1]. Although this has now changed dramatically, the numbers are still quite staggering. As recently as Q4 2012, 15% of UK adults had never used the internet[2]. That is 7.42 million people that have never “surfed the web”.

Of the people who do use the internet 94% do not go past the first search results page on Google[3]. This demonstrates the modern trend of no one ever wanting to wait for anything. Everyone is too busy to sift through the copious amounts of information available. The Internet is a true testament to human nature. It is neither good nor bad, but simultaneously both due to the people that use it. It has been used to co-ordinate riots and demonstrations as well as share photos and videos and look up digital media. It has always been a source of great controversy. Most recently with the NSA monitoring scandal which has brought together the unlikely alliance of AOL, Apple, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo, who are pushing the Global Government Surveillance Reform[4]. The irony of this is that the Alliance is asking for sanctions which, for better or worse, go against the original vision of the internet as a free, un-restricted organism.

It is estimated that by 2024 the Internet of Everything will be a $19 trillion global opportunity[5]. The internet is one of the keystones of the RIBA accredited CPD talk that Ideaworks regularly host for design professionals. One of the questions it raises is – “If everything is connected to the network; how important is the network?” The answer – $19 trillion.


[2]  (Office for National Statistics, 2013 – http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_300874.pdf)


Johanna Fright
Brand Guardian at Ideaworks

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