How the Internet Has Evolved Since Facebook Launched
With Facebook’s huge IPO in the news, Megan Garber takes a look at how much the Internet has evolved since Thefacebook came on the scene.
Facebook launched in 2004. Today, it has more users than the entire Internet had in 2004.
Before Facebook roamed the web, the digital world was dominated by big, bulky websites that assumed they’d stay big and bulky: Microsoft and its Hotmail, Time Warner and its AOL, Ask and its Jeeves. It’s striking how much the Internet has changed since Facebook sprinted onto the scene — and more striking still how much Mark Zuckerberg’s production did to change the course of that scene.
Back in 2004,
- the web had some 50 million sites. (Today, it has more than 600 million.)
- the most popular brand on the World Wide Web was Microsoft’s MSN.
- Google was the fifth most popular brand on the World Wide Web, ranking below Yahoo and AOL.
- people still talked about the “World Wide Web.”
- ”blog” — defined as “a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks” — was chosen as Merriam-Webster’s word of the year.
- Britney Spears was Google’s most popular search query – followed by Paris Hilton, Christina Aguilera, and Pamela Anderson. (Yes! Pamela Anderson!)
- Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction was the most searched term to date on Lycos.
- people still used Lycos.
- The Howard Dean campaign was pioneering grassroots organizing and fundraising on the Internet.
- Time magazine was recommending Friendster.com as one of the best websites of the year.
- the BBC was recommending Encyclopedia.com as one of the web’s “most useful websites.” (Wikipedia launched in early 2001.)[...]
I’m dubious that Zuckerberg’s creation, popular as it became, is the reason for much of this. It was, after all, limited to students until late 2006 and MSN, AOL, and Lycos were on their way out and blogs and Wikipedia were mainstream by then.
Indeed, I’d say that blogs have had a much greater impact on the Web than Facebook. Specifically, hastening the leveling effect that Garber alludes to in her intro. Back when OTB launched in January 2003, the differences between amateur and professional websites were instantly obvious. Nowadays, they’re not only harder to spot they’re largely irrelevant. A web page is a web page is a web page these days and the portal model is long gone.