Ever wonder what made the Internet the monster it is, starting only within the CERN research facility to now reaching nearly ever home with a computer ? Well it was the services and the websites that were there online. The more people saw value and entertainment, the more they got involved and more the internet grew. Influenced from the article here, I wanted to make a list of my 10 websites that actually made a difference to the Internet.
Like a few million people around the planet, this was one of the sites that helped amateur web enthusiasts like me to enable my first attempt at making an online presence. I saw a lot of web pages, self learnt HTML from the pages and got to a stage where I wanted to really make a mark online. Unfortunately engineering in Instrumentation and Technology did not make it any easy to keep in touch with the internet. But it sure told a lot of us that making and keeping a website was not very very hard, and its a skill that can be learnt with a bit of patience and a liking for web design. However, amateurs like me are responsible for most of those ugly websites that started during the days of Geocities and exist even until this day. The internet bid farewell to this beauty last year. Geocities will be missed but the job is now taken on by a few websites out there like Google Sites, Tumblr etc
With an intent to enable the entire world free access to knowledge, this was one of the real success stories of the Internet. I think the donation doors have time and again raised enough money to ensure that such a great resource as wikipedia stays alive and more importantly free. Giving a major competition to closed loop education and knowledge resources like the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, this is one world class product and project that definately changed the internet. Did you know that you can download a copy of the latest backup version of wikipedia ? Check it out at this location for yourself. http://download.wikimedia.org/
India’s first big mark on the online world came from a relatively unknown guy then named Sabeer Bhatia, and what he did was not only did he give a face to email but also a big mark for startups that get bought up. Starting Hotmail with some investment from a venture capitalist this Indian American Entrepreneur sold Hotmail for about $400 Million to Microsoft. Hotmail generated the interest in people to actually go online and create the account for an Email Address. Later the major chunk of the emails was taken up by USA.net which converted to a paid service at which point people moved to Yahoo Mail or Gmail. This was the state in India at least.
Between the international players, India had some shining stars for web portals. Rediff.com and Indiatimes.com are two sites that are running successfully even today. Both the sites integrated the online news / mail / sports / entertainment sections so well that it seemed that a lot of people had accounts with Rediff or Indiatimes at one time. After the popularity of Gmail this is shifted a little bit. However quite a few friends of mine still use their Rediff account as their primary communication medium. Interestingly, these sites were the first news sites in India, additionally they added the other craze of India cricket with live scores etc. Other similar sites at that time were sify.com and Indya.com.
The entire eCommerce bubble I would say was fuelled by these websites. Amazon and Ebay showed how to legitimately make money and substantial amounts of it. They provided customers a lot of support for people who were looking for collectibles, home appliances etc. Interestingly they grew so big that there were individuals who survived by searching eBay and providing people who were looking for stuff from stamps and coins to electronics and real estate; all for a small premium. They provided people a platform to buy and sell things and make money with garage sales and second hand goods and make money without having to build their own website.
You tube provided the missing piece to the expanding internet, Video. Vanity is one of the most famous things that gets people do unbelievable interesting or goofy things. You tube gave people an outlet to get their 15 minutes of fame. Be it by making their dog sing a song or perform bizarre stunts. However, it now is one of the most visited website on the planet. Providing millions of hours of entertainment to people with a lot of time on their hands and looking for entertainment. From movies to the present IPL, India is all over the You Tube.
Blogger is an awesome platform that provides amateurs like me a platform to post their views about anything under the sun. Although I am not using Blogger anymore and have moved on to WordPress.com, it is still one of the first services with Live Journal that enticed users to blog and made the buzz on the blog-o-sphere. Blogger is not only easy to use but also allows users to monetize their blog by posting Google Ads on it. It is one of the services that encourages users to write and make money at the same time.
There is no introduction required for facebook.com. Nearly everyone is hooked on to this magical website. Although there were earlier sites that encouraged people to network socially like orkut.com, hi5.com, friendster.com, facebook is the one that we can see taking over the internet. In fact it just surpassed Google as the most visited website within the U.S. Facebook not only revolutionized social networking, but also sharing photos, websites, videos, messaging, walling and the ever famous pokes.
It is not something that can be comprehended in the world of blogging, websites etc, a website that restricts you to 140 characters is now taking the internet to the next phase of its evolution. The Mobile. Before twitter, Mobile internet was completely restricted to emails through exchange and messages and some websites that were wap friendly. But twitter along with good mobile hardware has just changed how people use the internet on their phones. This definately is worth the mention.
The Search Giant that indexed the Internet and provided information to all people for free to be able to get around the vast and ever growing Internet. AdSense provided them with enough revenue for them to be able to provide a lot of services from the Google stables for free. Gmail, Google Earth, Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Sketchup, Google Picasa and many other services that we have come to love have all been born out of the revenue of AdSense. Google is one of the most loved and most visited single website on the world and they definately changed the Internet for good.
On a more personal note, the very first website that I had visited was unbelivable http://www.bharat-rakshak.com which is not as popular as one wold think, considering that they are almost like an unofficial website of the entire Indian Armed forces, the Army, Nave and the Air force. I was then looking for information related to getting to the NDA and this was one of the best resource, The internet was at a cyber cafe off Brigade Road in Bangalore and they were charging about Rs 140/- per hour, the internet connection was dial up and the one hour that my friend and I used the Internet we just browsed about 8 pages of that website.