How disruptive was the World Wide Web in just 25 years?

Today is the date when 25 years ago Sir Tim Berners-Lee released a publication proposing a system for managing information on the Internet. Information within that publication would become the framework for the World Wide Web we know today and many consider this day to be the 25th birthday of the World Wide Web.

The significant impact the web has made is realized when exploring how fast the disruption and adoption occurred compared to other disruptive technology like the motorized vehicle. The recent research completed by the Pew Research Internet Project on February 27, 2014, found that an estimated 87% of Americans now regularly use the Internet. Read more about how disruptive the Internet was and is in this post.

More Disruptive than the Car

In just 25 years, we’ve seen almost complete adoption by first world societies. Compare that to other modern technologies; the motorized vehicle is attributed being invented as early as 1769, but didn’t see major adoption in the marketplace until the 1900s when Henry Ford entered the business. Granted the cost for an individual consumer to ‘adopt’ a motor vehicle was much more significant than that of the Internet, but regardless of cost of adoption, no other invention has played such a significant role in disrupting practically every single facet of how we live. Today we hope to cover two of the more interesting aspects of the Internet’s disruption in honor of its 25th birthday.

Entertainment / Media Distribution

The first industry we’ll cover today is the entertainment industry – every single aspect of the entertainment industry: music, movies, television, theater, video games, etc. has been greatly affected by the Internet.

Consumers are utilizing the Internet to bring the latest entertainment to them. Gone are the days of renting your favorite VHS tapes in the bulky plastic containers as digital distribution of video games, movies, music, and television shows is taking off.

Traditional entertainment outlets like radio and television are forced to reinvent themselves to stay relevant with the use of the Internet. Radio broadcasters offering streaming internet radio and television shows are advocating the use of a second screen to entertain users by passing data through the Internet to a listener’s mobile device or tablet.

Watch this access to streaming entertainment get significantly more interesting as issues with net neutrality continue to remain a hot topic.

Empowering Social Movements

The Internet widely disrupted the way social movements occur. Petitioners turn to social media and the Internet to be heard. Entrepreneurs tap into the power of the masses through crowdfunding and people have realized that now more than ever, one voice can be heard by many and may change with the help of the Internet.

We have seen countless sites come up that display the power the Internet can have when advocating change. For example, , the petition platform with more than 45 million users, has empowered users by giving them an opportunity to allow their story or voice be heard through thousands of successful petitions. Some of the most famous being applying pressure to the Boy Scouts organization to accept gay youth as members and returning coverage of a chemotherapy patient that lost insurance coverage by gathering 187,000 signatures on

Kickstarter, an online platform that allows people to share their idea for the next big thing, allows Internet users to crowdfund different ideas and has seen tremendous success with more than $1 billion dollars funding over 57,000 creative projects since its start in 2009.

The concept of crowdsourcing, however admirable the intent, has also brought to light some negatives. One example being what has been called the “Reddit Witch Hunts” that followed the Boston Marathon bombing. These “hunts” incorrectly identified suspects after Reddit users spent thousands of hours navigating pictures and video.

What Next?

Regardless of an industry, the Internet has changed practically every single aspect of how we live and function in society. We didn’t even get to the “Internet of Things” or the ubiquity of Internet-enabled mobile devices in this post.

As with most technologies, the Internet was developed far too fast for us to completely understand where it would and will lead us. We’re certainly happy where it has taken us the last 25 years. BrightPlanet would not exist without the World Wide Web and we are excited to see where it goes in the next 25.