Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

New Statesman

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

New Statesman

Article excerpt

It is sometimes hard to believe the internet has been in our lives for just a decade. Many of the big brands we now associate with the web started life in 1994-95, as small ventures with grand ideas. In no time at all, they were going to scrap paper, bricks and mortar, transforming the way we lived, learnt and communicated, saving us time and money, finding us jobs, homes and lovers--in short, fulfilling our wildest dreams. So elevated was their vision of the future that many of them failed to spot problems already on the ground; these obstacles didn't floor every single company, but they certainly slowed them all down a bit.

Initially rather excited by the frenzied predictions, home and business users of the internet found the reality frustratingly slow, fairly meaningless and occasionally dangerous; many couldn't get access however hard they tried, others simply didn't want to know. On the defensive, or just unimpressed, people turned back to their TVs, glossy mags, faded paperbacks and 1950s-style radios. But that was not the end of it. The introduction of broadband has allowed higher speeds and, with it, greater content. Now you can be online without being disconnected just before your email has been sent or your shopping basket has been updated. And that's not all. Broadband (along with improved measures to deal with viruses, fraud and pornography) has reawakened much of the original optimism for the internet's transformative, participatory potential, and the hype seems more justified than before. …

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