Is facebook the new World Wide Web?

Lora sometimes says I’m a dinosaur and, in the sense that I’ve been around a long time, it’s true. Hopefully, though, I have effectively survived the metaphorical meteor strikes and climate changes along my path of success, and have learned and gained a little expertise and, perhaps, wisdom along the way. Having been around a long time, I saw and participated in the Internet before it was public. I watched it’s growth when people ran CAT-5 cable along gutters to get an Internet connection to their home. I participated in some pretty crazy things to get local connectivity myself. Today I am wondering, “Is facebook the new World Wide Web”


There really were Internet services called Gopher, Archie, Veronica, and Jughead. It was a strange place made up of professional geeks and unemployable geeks — but geeks none-the-less. It was a time even before the World Wide Web. “High speed” data transfer meant 1200 baud. Not megabits or gigabits, just plain ordinary bits per second.


Then along came the ‘web. The World Wide Web, envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist and former CERN employee, brought the power of hyper-linking to our finger tips. Originally a concept of having just one copy of any document, picture, software program, etc. stored online and available for anyone to access, it has sure grown and changed over the past two decades or so.


When it first appeared there were few tools to make it accessible. Lynx was a text-based (yes, text based!) web browser available on UNIX (and LINUX) powered computers. Windows, still in its infancy, didn’t have a browser yet. Internet Explorer wasn’t even a dream. It wouldn’t show up until 1995. Although available from 1990, Nexus didn’t get wide public distribution. Netscape, the wildly popular precursor to Firefox and Chrome, wasn’t available until 1994. My first Windows-based (v3.1) browser was called Cello, first available in 1993. I quickly graduated to Mosaic. The point is, times were rough back then. We had to walk to school and back in the snow. Uphill. Both ways.


But the World Wide Web got started and kept on going. It got better. There were more tools. It replaced some things, like Gopher, and it provided superior document storage, search, and retrieval, and HTML opened web publishing up to the masses. When America Online (AOL) finally recognized the Internet, the ‘web was well established and when they released their million or so screaming, unwashed, (metaphorically speaking) members to the ‘net the mobs really had arrived.


I watched as many new to the ‘web thought the World Wide Web was the Internet, not just part of it. After all, they could get all the things they needed, or thought they wanted, in one place, through their web browser; web mail, web pages, web documents, web files… what else was there? Of course there was more. Gopher took a while to disappear. Email still exists today and, though many don’t know it, is a completely separate service. Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and Newsgroups are still with us and have huge followings. Of course, as these things are also available on, or through, the web many think they are part of it. They are not. They are, just as is the World Wide Web, a feature, function, or service of, or on, the Internet.


Is facebook the new World Wide Web


facebook is really just a website. Bigger, certainly, and more complex, than your average blogging site, but “just a website” none-the-less, and one of gazillions of them on the World Wide Web. But, in many ways, just like the World Wide Web I watched grow from it’s meager beginnings to the major player it is today, I have watched facebook grow from a meager social chat service into the major social media player which offers many people their entire view of the Internet. Some people have facebook pages, but no website, they use facebook messaging, and have no email, online shopping is done through facebook ads, and more. To them, facebook is their Internet.


In this manner, one might say that facebook has become some people’s World Wide Web. But will it last. Before facebook, MySpace was dominant. Before MySpace, AngelFire and AOL and Yahoo! (not in any particular order). And before those, others I have used in the past, but long forgotten. The World Wide Web is still here. It is too big, to wide spread, to all-encompassing, I think, to fail. My best guess is it will be around for a long time to come.


But what about facebook? Will the next big thing, perhaps not even imagined or invented yet, push it quickly to one side as facebook did to Myspace? Will facebook survive on the sidelines or, as Gopher and many others before it, quietly disappear from the virtual landscape altogether, only to be as quickly forgotten?


Stegosaurus - Is Facebook The New World Wide Web
Is facebook the new World Wide Web


If you are involved in online business of any kind, I think you need to ask yourself these questions and be prepared for the worst case scenario. If you are putting all your eggs in one basket, using facebook as your online foundation, it may be time to take a serious look at what you are doing. You probably should seriously consider your own domain name, your own website, and your own email address. Any web service, even one as big as facebook, can be here today and, quite literally, gone tomorrow.


Is that the foundation you are building on? Counting on? Is facebook the new World Wide Web? If not, time to re-think the plan!



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