Twenty years ago today (March, 13th), the World Wide Web was born. This ephemerid is highlighted in many important newspapers worldwide this Friday.
Those who are under twenty can barely imagine life without the Internet. When they were learning to walk, they probably crashed into their parents’ computer desk and when they babbled “mum” for the first time it’s not absurd to suppose that their proud father used the web to spread the great news.
We who in the early nineties were already grownups, we are witnesses to one of the most revolutionary inventions in human history and we have attended this watershed moment when information, that was kept protected by elite groups, began to be widely distributed all over the world, changing our whole means of communicating, doing business, learning, entertaining and behaving.
My most delightful childhood and youth memories – I have plenty of them – don’t prevent me from recognizing that the world, then, was monotonous because unknown (unless you had much imagination, and I had!). It seemed to be poorer, slower and brander.
Europe and the United States, for a girl like me, were distant lands which ways of life I knew by reading books and weekly national magazines that, in dictatorship times – Brazil was under dictatorial military rule from 1964 to 1985 – were very dull. When my aunt went abroad to do her German Philology studies, it took many weeks until we could receive a letter from her and whenever she received our news, these ones were already old. Phone calls were miles too expensive!
I remember the day I knew of the Web. It was 1996 and my father, whom I still lived with, showed me a chat program. We, the family, had just arrived from a trip through Europe and I was still enchanted with the languages I had had the opportunity to listen to. That was wonderful! Being able to talk with people all over the world through a gadget, without moving! Suddenly I was talking even with Italian people – in English, of course –. My first Internet instant message called Freetel, and it was a kind of middle ages’ program, compared to Skype or MSN Messenger we have nowadays. There were no voices and we were always being sent out of the web, for ADSL didn’t exist. We had to wait the six o’clock in the afternoon to connect, or the phone bill could easily drive us completely broke.
The world changed apace since then. And it’s much more interesting, coloured, bright and vivid than ever. That’s how I see it, since I make the most of the WWW.
By Helga Maria Saboia Bezerra