Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, claims today that the technology is merely in its infancy. It’s almost 17 years since the first ever web site was published (6th August 1991), so you’d expect the web to be a spotty teenager.
The first British newspapers can be traced back to the 1620s, but they only really entered the “modern” world with colour printing in the 1990s, almost 400 years later. Who would have thought in 1620 that you would be able to print something in colour from a picture taken on the other side of the planet just a few hours later? So in age terms, 400 years on, newspapers have probably only recently entered adulthood themselves.
At any moment in history, people like to think they have all the answers, have solved all the problems and have advanced their technologies as far as they can go. Those first inventors of stone age tools probably were unable to predict the microchip. And so it is today; those of us heavily engaged with the Internet world like to think we are working with the latest technologies. Come back in 1,000 years and take a look…!
From the Stone Age to the Microchip
There is one problem, though. To get from stone age tools to the microchip took thousands of years; to get from hundreds of copies of flimsy black and white newspapers to their international production in colour took hundreds of years. But to go from an idea about hyperlinks to online shopping and downloadable products has taken less than 20 years. In other words, the development of Internet technologies is much more rapid.
So what does this mean for your business? It means that even though the web is in its infancy, you cannot afford to sit back and wait for it to mature. The changes that keep happening are taking place so rapidly that you need to keep up. Rather like a 5-year-old child nowadays – if they didn’t mix with their friends and keep up to date on the world around them, they would stagnate into people who could not take part in society.
Your business is the same as that toddler. Take part, in full, in the Internet now and learn as much as you can every day about it. That way you will be able to grow with this infant. Stay on the sidelines and before you know it that child will have developed into something completely different and unpredictable – and your business won’t know how to mix. Taking part with web technologies is no longer optional.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+