My first look at the “Web” was in early 1992. At the time, the Internet was just beginning to open-up to non-research organization and we had a modem phone connection to a non-profit ISP. A colleague of mine had found and downloaded a copy of the “WorldWideWeb” software from CERN’s Tim Berners-Lee that was available only on NeXT computers at the time (a good thing that we were developing on NeXT!).
At the time, the Internet was not very friendly. We were using it mainly as a conduit for emails and for connecting to usenet “newsgroups”. Command line software like “finger” and “ftp” were how you can find and exchange information on the web. While this was acceptable for expert user and researcher, there was no way that this could open the Internet to a wide audience.
WorldWideWeb was going to change all that and my first reaction to the software was exactly that “WOW, this going to change everything”! And it did. There, an easy way to create a web of information around any number of sites around the world that could be easily access by casual users.
From that point, the Internet and the Web grew so tightly connected that it’s now almost synonymous. So much, that people have now trouble understanding that some apps (mainly on mobile) do access information through the Internet without the use of the Web.
At the time, I was already aware of the concept behind “hypertext” (one of the Web key principle) because it was the a core concept behind Apple’s HyperCard half a decade earlier. The Web was not such a great leap from an engineering stand-point. It was making use of a lot of existing technologies and concepts. If a committee would have work on this, the technology would most certainly be more advanced and more efficient… but it would also probably took at least 10 years to be usable. The genius of the Web was that it was there, simple and usable. Like most inventions today, when the technology have reach a certain level of maturity, someone somewhere will make the next invention. It was Tim Berners-Lee but if he did not, someone else would have found a way to navigate the web simply, it was something that just needed to happen at that time.
The opening of the web to everyone and the Web were the enabling factors that did enable social media and all that followed. A lot of progress and infrastructure was still needed to enable social media and wide spread use of video on the Internet but the foundation was there. An important piece was off course bandwidth, enough speed to make it efficient to be constantly connected to the Internet and to allow video to be streamed in real-time (well, bandwidth and compression) but 10 years later around 2002, it was beginning to be possible and by 2012, it was also taken for granted.