Monday, December 21, 2009

The Internet (or the web, or the tubes …)

This medium, which makes this blog possible, has evolved rapidly in the last couple of decades, as have its many names. Remember when everyone talked about the World Wide Web to the extent that three Ws still often precede web addresses? The term was almost a flash in the pan: it was coined in 1989, the term's usage peaked in 1996, and has declined dramatically since. We still use "the web," we just don't call it that.

The term the web peaked later, but still pre-2000.

The term www rose to prominence somewhat later, peaked, for some reason, in 2006, and has declined since.

and the net is similar to the web.

So, the web is now called the Internet, right? Well, not completely. Like the other terms, internet peaked in 2000 (with the dot-com bubble and all) but while the others have declined and leveled out, the term "internet" has resumed growth and is being used at almost-2000 levels:

So where does that leave us? Are we really talking less about the internet now than we were in 2000? Sure, 2000 had the dot-com boom, but this medium which is so oft used no longer has a definitive name. Almost no one had high speed internet back then, now everyone does. Rather than coalescing under one name, the Internet has split in to many terms—in just two decades names have fallen, and risen, and it is now often referred to with jargony names which have arisen from, well, from the internet. To wit:

That's the chart for interwebs, an entirely jocular term which has increased dramatically since 2006. The peaks before that are from Houston Interweb Design, a once-publicly traded web design firm (remember when everyone went public in the 90s?) which has ceased to exist.

Then, of course, there's the intertubes

which come from a "series of tubes"

for which we have Uncle Ted Stevens

to thank. Or as you may know him, Senator Tubes.

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