Since those early days, the Web has spawned an entirely new medium for worldwide information exchange and commerce. For instance, when the marketeers caught on to the fact that they could cheaply produce and deliver eye-catching, wow-and-whiz-bang commercials and product catalogs to those millions of web surfers around the world, there was no stopping the stampede of blue suede shoes. Even the key developers of Mosaic and related web server technologies sensed potential riches. They left NCSA and made their fortunes with Netscape Communications by producing commercial web browsers and server software. That was until the sleeping giant, Microsoft, awoke. But that’s another story….
Business users and marketing opportunities have helped invigorate the Internet and fuel its phenomenal growth. Internet-based commerce has become Very Big Business, exceeding $150 billion annually by 2005. Traditional bricks-and-mortar businesses have either opened web-based commercial sites or face extinction.
For some, particularly we Internet old-timers, business and marketing have also trashed the medium. In many ways, the Web has become a vast strip mall and an annoying advertising medium. Believe it or not, once upon a time, Internet users actually followed commonly held (but not formally codified) rules of netiquette that prohibited such things as spam email.
Nonetheless, the power of HTML and network distribution of information goes well beyond marketing and monetary rewards: serious informational pursuits also benefit. Publications complete with images and other media such as executable software can get to their intended audiences in the blink of an eye, instead of the months traditionally required for printing and mail delivery. Education takes a great leap forward when students gain access to the great libraries of the world. And at times of leisure, the interactive capabilities of HTML links can reinvigorate our otherwise television-numbed minds.