by Maria on September 22, 2006

Today is the first ever OneWebDay; “the one day a year when we all – everyone around the physical globe – can celebrate the Web and what it means to us as individuals, organizations, and communities”. OneWebDay was started by Susan Crawford who’s also one of our Board Directors at ICANN and an all round good egg. The idea is to celebrate all the good things about the web, and the Internet more broadly, and do things that either make it better or remind ourselves how great it already is. Fun things, chatty things, useful things, things like teaching people to blog, getting grannies online and building community spaces.

We’ve not planned anything quite as concrete as all that here at CT. In fact, we’ve not planned anything at all. But we can certainly do the celebrating and reminiscing part of it.

Things like sharing:
How the web changed my life
How I found my job online
How I found friends online
What the web means to me
Or, my own category; mad things the web lets us do that we’d never thought of before and now can’t live without.

You know, the little things. So here goes.

How the web changed my life: well, I used to work in tv and film and had to get up very early. Which was no good as I’m emphatically not a morning person (not really a night owl or a middle of the day person either, for that matter). Now I make my living more or less directly from the Internet as I’ve worked in Internet policy for the last six years. So that’s pretty obvious.

The real way the Internet changed my life, though, is by making expat life a bit less like living with a running sore. I IM with at least one sibling every day, blog with another, and share photos and emails with all the rest. And if I ever figure out this Skype thing, I won’t even have to phone my parents any more. (They already have video-conferencing with their 8 month old grand-son in Washington, and will get it up and running next week for their 5 day old grand-daughter in Shropshire.) I read the Irish Times (and the Guardian, Washington Post and Le Monde) every morning, so I never feel completely out of touch with events. I download Questions and Answers and the evening news from Irish television and probably see more of my pundit/public figure type relatives than I ever did when I lived at home. I buy my flights online, knowing that the instant arbitrage of the Internet has helped drive prices down to the point where I can afford to be at home every six weeks. I manage bank accounts in four countries and shopped around for the best mortgage in one of them. And I get loads of silly joke emails every day, just as if I was in an office in Dublin. Of course, nothing is the same as living in your own country, speaking in your own accent, sitting in your best friend’s kitchen talking rubbish over a bottle of wine, going to a crap movie with your little brother because, hey, you’ve got the time. But the Internet helps. Lots.

So that’s a start, anyway. There’s lots I could say about how I got into Internet policy back in the days when we had all that west coast libertarian guff about the Internet making us free (because information wants to be free. Right.) and I started to worry that it was actually the ultimate technology of control. But it’s OneWebDay, the day when we think about the happy, shiny stuff the Internet has brought us.

So think. And share. Thanks!



kid bitzer 09.22.06 at 5:22 am

it has reduced my productivity by roughly 80%.

lotta time wasted.

Thanks, WWW!


otto 09.22.06 at 6:34 am

The interweb does really change things for expats.


jayann 09.22.06 at 7:10 am

getting grannies online

to join all the grandads?


John Emerson 09.22.06 at 7:17 am

“The Web brought me to Jesus — but first, it ruined my life!”


Ted 09.22.06 at 8:27 am

I met my wife via the internet. Anything else it does for me is gravy.

Oh, and I found a really good recipe for gravy.


Maria 09.22.06 at 8:34 am

I thought of a few items for this category:

“mad things the web lets us do that we’d never thought of before and now can’t live without.”

Thing is, they’re all bad for you.


– finding cheap, unethical or inadvisable health services online. Like buying kidneys from Indian peasants, getting dodgy lipo in developing countries, or other things I read about in Marie Claire that were just too hard to do before the web.

– googling ex-boyfriends.

– googling prospective boyfriends.

– googling self.

– getting expensive instant gratification on momentary obsessions and finding the need has passed once the book/DVD/small child has arrived.

– oh, and of course, blogging.


astrongmaybe 09.22.06 at 9:45 am

The real way the Internet changed my life, though, is by making expat life a bit less like living with a running sore… Of course, nothing is the same as living in your own country, speaking in your own accent, sitting in your best friend’s kitchen talking rubbish over a bottle of wine…

The problem with the Internet is that it makes it so much harder to leave all that shit behind. You can still run away, but now it runs after you..;o) YMMV.


Helena 09.22.06 at 10:32 am

I’ve designed 3 websites for free (one for a charity, two for trad. music CD shops), 6 internal sites and 2 commercial sites since I started with it 1995. I would never have managed to finish my business diploma without online resources. The OneWebDay is a good excuse to go out for a drink!


jayann 09.22.06 at 12:38 pm

But you asked how it changed our lives. I’d say the Net changed my life more than the Web has — I use niche software, some of it assistive tech., and the email lists for that, now mainly replaced by web forums, were invaluable. Otoh a paraplegic using the same software would probably place more emphasis on the web; one called it “my window on the world”.

Re my snapping at comments about “grannies”, see the Guardian letters’ page after their Silver Surfers’ Day piece.


moriarty 09.22.06 at 1:01 pm

The Web is very insecure and thus needs to be told how wonderful it is.


Megan 09.22.06 at 2:15 pm

Because of the internets, I never wonder things anymore. Seriously, a thought crosses my mind and just as easily I can find out the answer. I used to puzzle over things forever until I got an answer, and now, most of the time, I can get a plausible answer the next time I’m at a computer. It is nice.

(I don’t mean that I don’t have curiosity anymore. I just mean that it is satisfied.)


Andy 09.22.06 at 8:07 pm

Yes there’s a side of the web that isn’t wonderful but I certainly owe it a lot. The only way I could do my current job (network administration) is due to the availability of information on the web. I’m a bit of an expat too and keeping track of Arsenal is far easier now. I even met my wife online. I understand that it’s possible to quibble about what’s web-ish versus net-ish but the rise of the web has catalyzed a lot of services that wouldn’t be here without good old HTTP.


vivian 09.22.06 at 8:44 pm

It’s changed my life in so many ways, all of them deadly dull to describe. I’ve run a family mailing list for years. In the course of which I’ve met many aging relatives who were only names and anecdotes to me. Also I’m able to keep in touch with friends who move frequently. Oddly, people from my past keep turning up commenting in CT. See what I mean – dull.


nick s 09.23.06 at 3:45 am

I remember seeing Mosaic fire up on an NCD X-terminal in January 1994, and knew the web, even then, was going to change things in a big way. Yes, it means that I no longer spend as many afternoons in a reference library, and I probably read fewer dead-tree books than I would otherwise, and my handwriting has gone to pot, but these are small things.

The expat thing is huge: it’s 4.30am and I’m listening to audio commentary from the Ryder Cup, because the American broadcasters tape-delay the morning matches. I don’t necessarily think it reinforces little-Englander tendencies; I do think it’s helped me stay sane.


Eszter 09.24.06 at 11:44 pm

Gosh, so many ways, it’s hard to say. I think you captured some of the really important aspects, like the ability to keep in touch with family and friends much more easily, and following distant cultures at a much lower cost.

Like another commenter, I really appreciate being able to get answers to various random question quickly. I also rely on the Web for mundane everyday life things such as checking the weather, figuring out how to get to my next destination (and when taking public transportation, when to get to the station), listening to music, exploring distant lands through people’s photographs, and so on.

And, like you Maria, my professional life centers around the Internet so one big question for me could be: What would I be doing if we didn’t have all this?

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