Wonderful Web: How the Internet is Changing our Lives

Since the mid-1990s, when the internet first started taking shape, it’s changed everyones’ lives in almost every way. From revolutionizing entertainment to retail to our social lives, it’s really quite impressive the impact the internet has had on us. We’ll take a look at some of the companies that are shaping this wave we like to call the webvolution.

Music has been around as long as we’ve known, and iTunes introduced a new era of music. This isn’t about iTunes though, it’s about how they ushered in the era of web music: Pandora, and Spotify. The difference between the two: Pandora is available in a browser, while Spotify has an app to itself. Created back in 2006 in England, Spotify’s mission is to help people to listen to whatever music they want, whenever they want, wherever they want. After trying out Spotify, I can testify that the product is simply revolutionary. The thought of paying ten dollars per month and getting all the music you want on your iPod legally really leads me to reconsider iTunes. The one thing I thought Spotify could use is a grid type interface with album art, as the desktop application is really text heavy. Spotify’s new Facebook functionality is also quite impressive: see what your friends are listening to, and even subsribe to their playlists. It’s also compatible with virtually every smartphone: whether you’re running a big-shot operating system like Android, or you’re rocking a Symbian or Palm phone, Spotify’s got you covered. My overall impression of Spotify: almost as good as the music I can listen to with it (Spotify has fifteen million tracks available).

One of the staples of the internet is social communication, and Twitter is one of the reasons that communication is so easy and accesible on the internet. It’s a stream of accesible information where you can get updates from the people you choose, famously limiting updates to 140 characters. Launched in 2006, under the name “Twttr, ” it has since grown to 200 million users, and sees 200 million tweets per day. My first impression of Twitter was “how are people going to get their point by in just 140 characters?” Turns out, it gives everyone a fair share on your feed, so you can get updates from a variety of people (can’t say the same about Facebook, now can we?) It has changed the way we think, and the way we socialize. Most recently, it played a substantial role in sparking the revolts in the Middle East, and the race to democracy in that rapidly changing region. Twitter is free, making it truly accesible to everyone who is connected to the internet, and is available as an app on most popular mobile operating system.

Earlier this year, my friend showed me a website called Stumbleupon. At first I pondered on what Stumbleupon’s place in the internet was. I soon realized that, essentially, Stumbleupon is the web. It lets you customize your interests, and surf the web based on other users’ recommendations on the subject. It’s sort of like a never-ending, guided tour of the web featuring the things you want to see. You can change what interest you want to see whenever you want, using the top toolbar. What’s also great is that Stumbleupon evolves with the web; once rating get too low (maybe because the site is too old), Stumbleupon will remove it, to keep things fresh. Stumbleupon is available on just about every mobile browser, thanks to some neat free apps you can get. The only problem with Stumbleupon? As soon as you start, you’ll never be able to stop!

The internet seems like an old-timer in this rapidly changing era of technology, what with iPods, smartphones, tablets, and supercomputers all in our realm these days. But in fact, we are using the internet more and more thanks to these exciting new devices, without even realizing it. Heck, without the internet, you wouldn’t be reading this right now, and none of those devices I just mentioned would have been invented! After 15 years, the web is still giving birth to marvels like Spotify, Twitter, and Stumbleupon, which are changing the way we live. And I’m sure there’s lots more coming.


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