Web Hits Milestone

According to Netcraft, an Internet monitoring agency based in England, the Web registered its 100 millionth domain during the month of October.

According to Netcraft’s site, they received 101,435,253 responses from Web sites during their November survey. That’s up from 97.9 million the previous month. (The company’s first survey in August 1995 listed just shy of 19,000 sites.)

The driving force behind this growth: blogs (like this one). The driving force behind that driving force: free blog services, like those offered by Blogger, MSN, and Yahoo!

Where were you when the Web happened?

The report also says that a majority of servers were controlled by scientific bodies back in 1995, like CERN–the European physics conglomerate that set up the Web’s first server in 1990 thanks in part to the legendary Tim Berners-Lee. Over time, of course, the Web became the kind of commercial playground that Leroy Searle called a “riotous global pursuit of the promises made by advertising and pornography” (“Emerging Questions”).

That all said, when I started this post I only wanted to report on the milestone in domain registration. But when I read the top of CERN’s info page, I found something interesting:

1990 was a momentous year in world events. In February, Nelson Mandela was freed after 27 years in prison. In April, the space shuttle Discovery carried the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. And in October, Germany was reunified.

Then at the end of 1990, a revolution took place that changed the way we live today.

Has the Web become so mythologized that we should remember it with Nelson Mandela and the Hubble Telescope? Very likely it has, but it caught me off guard to have the Web’s very early development lumped with such large-scale news items. Admittedly, I was not really of an age in 1990 when I was paying attention to the nightly news, but I don’t recall being particularly excited by CERN’s development. (In fact, I didn’t even get a computer until 1996.)

I remember Mandela. I remember the Hubble. I don’t remember the Web. For me, the Web just happened. I fell into it, thanks to a forward-looking tech director at my high school who decided that the classrooms ought to have a connection to this expanding network.

I don’t know what the point of this is. Perhaps I’m just uncomfortable at this kind of historicizing of the Web. Perhaps I don’t know what to make of a paragraph that links Mandela to the Web’s invention. I don’t know. I am interested in others’ stories about how they found the Internet or Web (back then, I’m sure, the difference between the words was meaningful, now it’s semantic).

To boil it down: Where were you when the Web happened?

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