These days, birds don’t ‘chirp’ but human beings often ‘tweet’. This article contains information on the most influential websites that redefined the Internet world. Find out how various websites have changed the Internet world forever.
Websites, the main component of the Internet, have radically changed the way we lead our lives today. Many websites have made our life simple and easier, but some have actually revolutionized the concept of social life. The concept of ‘world wide web’ (www) was launched in 1990 by the physicist, Tim Berners-Lee, and since 1993, it was made available to all common users. Isn’t it quite surprising that within a few years only, it had a colossal impact on our information environment? Websites that changed the Internet world have also had a great impact on our lifestyle.
Today, we use computers as easily as telephones and we cannot imagine spending a single day without using at least one of the several Google applications like Gmail, Google News, Froogle, Google Maps, Google Book Search, Google Talk, Google Earth, etc. Certain websites have really changed the Internet world. We can find answers to our queries on discussion forums like WikiAnswers and we can express our thoughts with the help of a website like ‘blogger.com’. We can choose any educational course from any university located in any part of the world. It is quite easier to acquire an international degree now. Online banking, online booking, online shopping, etc., have completely changed the way we lead our lives. We can pay bills, tolls, taxes, insurance or loan installments online and save a lot of time. We can earn/save money by advertising and promoting ourselves on different websites. We can check the opening and closing times, weekly holidays of any famous museum in Paris or Rome, despite our own location. We just need to sit in front of the computer and everything is available right at our fingertips now.
Websites that Changed the World
Top 10 websites in terms of traffic and influence would keep on changing but we can enlist a few websites that redefined the Internet world. Certain websites that changed the Internet world completely include social networking sites or community sites like ‘Orkut’ and ‘Facebook’, microblogging sites like ‘Twitter’, information sites like ‘Wikipedia’ and other sites like ‘eBay’, ‘YouTube’, ‘Amazon.com’, etc. I am sure you would like to browse Internet facts for more information. The convenience and comfort that we are enjoying today can be attributed to certain popular websites that redefined the Internet.
Social Networking Sites
- Founded by: Mark Zuckerberg and his friends Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes.
- Launched in: February 2004
- Users: more than 800 million; had more than 138.9 million monthly unique U.S. visitors in May 2011.
Facebook was originally introduced as a site to connect the students of Harvard university but soon its rise led to the decline of several other social networking sites like Friendster and MySpace. In the computer world, ‘Friendster’ is recognized as the ‘granddaddy of social networks’. Today, Facebook is the most popular website in the world. In June 2011, Facebook recorded one trillion page views! Facebook allows you to create your personal profile. You can add other users as your friends and you can join common-interest groups like ‘close friends’, ‘family tree’, ‘people from work’, etc. You can upload photos and videos, you can chat with your friends, you can send private or public messages, you can write on somebody’s wall or you can even poke. Your updated status promptly provides information on your whereabouts and actions.
- Founded by: Jack Dorsey
- Launched in: July 2006
- Users: more than 200 million
Twitter is a microblogging service, through which you can read and send posts of up to 140 characters. The posts are text-based and are known as ‘tweets’. The concept of sharing thoughts and views has now gained tremendous popularity all over the world. The subscribers are known as ‘followers’ and they can follow (subscribe to) other users’ tweets.
Several other sites like ‘MySpace’, ‘Friendster’, etc., were in the list of ‘Top 10 popular websites’ before ‘Facebook’ was launched. Websites like ‘LinkedIn’, where you can develop new contacts, search jobs, post your resume, and design your career are also quite popular today.
- Founded by: Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger
- Launched in: January 2001
- Users: more than 365 million
Wikipedia is a free, user-generated multilingual encyclopedia. It contains over 20 million articles and it provides information on everything that you need. For latest events too, people search on Wikipedia for reliable information. It is well-known for reliable and perfect information. Today, there are about 90,000 active contributors who write for Wikipedia regularly and the articles are available in 282 languages! According to the statistics, out of its total monthly pageviews, about 2.7 billion are from the United States alone. It is and will remain among the ten most visited websites worldwide.
Forum websites like Answers.com, where people can discuss various topics, government sites, which support tourism or provide information on food and drugs, medicines, etc., like nal.usda.gov, cancer.gov, nlm.nih.gov or sites launched by educational and nonprofit institutions, etc., come under this category.
Mailing and Communication Sites
- Founded by: Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith
- Launched in: July 1996
- Users: nearly 364 million users in August 2010.
Hotmail was initially launched as ‘HoTMaiL’, keeping in mind the ‘HTML’. It can be called ‘the pioneer of web-based email services’. It was presented by Microsoft as a part of ‘Windows’ applications. It is now available in 36 different languages. According to the statistics, in Aug 2010, ‘Windows Live Hotmail’ was the world’s largest e-mail service.
- Service: provided by Google
- Launched in: April 2004 and was made available to the general public in February 2007
- Users: more than 260 million users in October 2011
Gmail offers 1 GB storage capacity per user. A message with an attachment can be up to 25 MB (quite large as compared to other mail services). Gmail is an e-mail service provided by Google. It is an advertising-supported service, so you may see relevant advertisements on your page when you open your mailbox. Google video and voice chat are quite popular today. ‘Gmail Mobile’ service is available in 40 languages.
FastMail, Yahoo Mail, Rediffmail, etc., are some other popular mailing sites. ‘Skype’ has brought the world in a single room. It helps communicate with people away from you. Skype is known for video chatting. You can conduct an interview on Skype, you can choose your life partner, or you can easily interact with your children who are away from home.
Video Sharing Sites
- Founded by: Three former PayPal employees; Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim
- Launched in: February 2005
- Users: more than three billion views per day as of May 2011
YouTube has gained tremendous popularity as one can upload, view and share videos here. It is a subsidiary of Google now. According to the Alexa records, it is ranked third today. You can even upload 3D videos here. The simple user-friendly procedure attracts more and more visitors.
Sites like Flixya, Pandora, Google Video, Metacafe, MySpace, etc., are popular for video sharing. Flickr, an image hosting and video hosting website, helps upload or download photos and videos.
Auction and Shopping Websites
- Founded by: Pierre Omidyar
- Launched in: September 1995
- Revenue: US$ 9.156 billion (2010)
‘eBay’ has revolutionized the way we shop. It is a premier auction site where you can bid on items and win. You can buy almost anything except animals, fireworks, guns, lock-picking devices, franking machines, etc! Other services offered by the site include event ticket trading, money transfers, classified advertisements, etc. I am sure, you must be spending maximum time in the biggest ‘shopping mall’ named ‘eBay’, every day.
- Founded by: Jeff Bezos
- Launched in: 1995
- Revenue: US$ 34.204 billion (2010)
- Users: By October 2011, unique visitors 120 million per month.
Amazon.com is one of the most visited e-commerce sites today. You may call it ‘the world’s largest online retailer’. Initially, it was an online bookstore, but now, it sells several other items. You just name it and you will get it on Amazon. It has offices in different countries. Facilities like international shipping are available for certain countries, for selected products.
Each city or country may have several such sites. A site like ‘Groupon’ provides vouchers with which you can get up to 70% discount on spa, cinema, travel and so many other items.
- Founded by: the ‘Google Guys’ Sergey Brin and Larry Page
- Launched in: September 1998
- Revenue: US$ 29.321 billion (2010)
- Users: more than 1 billion unique visitors in May 2011
According to the available statistics, google.com is the Internet’s most visited website today. It is the fastest and most relevant search engine. It is also well-known for its other services and products like Google Talk, Google Earth, Google Images, Picasa photo organization and editing software, etc. It is estimated that Google attends over one billion search requests and it processes around 24 petabytes of user-generated data every day! The word ‘Google’ actually had no particular meaning; but you would be surprised to know that it appears in the Oxford English Dictionary as a verb now!
- Founded by: Jerry Yang and David Filo
- Launched in: March 1995
- Revenue: US$ 6.324 billion (2010)
- Users: more than 700 million people log in to Yahoo website every month.
Yahoo is another popular search engine. For some, it is a favorite games/shopping center; while for some, it is the most preferred e-mailbox or news provider. Yahoo services like ‘Yahoo! Maps’, ‘Yahoo! Finance’, ‘Yahoo! Groups’ and ‘Yahoo! Messenger’ have gained popularity in all corners of the world.
Fantastic search engines like ‘Bing’ and ‘Ask’ have made our life simple and easier. Within a fraction of a second, you can get the information that you are looking for.
- Launched in: August 1995
- Users: According to the Nielsen/NetRatings, CNN.com stood at the third place among online global news sites, in terms of unique users in the U.S. in April 2009.
The channel Cable News Network (CNN) was founded in 1980 by Ted Turner; but the channel went online in 1995. CNN.com is known for the latest breaking news. It is read for in-depth coverage, special reports, video, audio clips, etc. In 2009, the ‘sign up’ option and in 2010, the food blog called ‘Eatocracy’ were added to the website.
Almost all newspapers and magazines are now available online. You can read as per your convenience. If you want, you can bookmark the pages, or you can read the old news again. The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and The New York Times are some examples of popular newspapers that are read online. Certain newspapers (like Seattle Post-Intelligence, for which, printing has been stopped after about 149 years of circulation) are now available online only. You can get online magazines, or webzines or ezines through e-mail or you may visit the particular site of the magazine and click on particular topics to read the content of your own interest. Several medical journals provide information on latest research in health, treatments and medicines. These days, events like terrorist attacks, tsunami alerts, assassination of a political leader, etc., spread like wildfire through Internet.
- Originally launched by: Pyra Labs
- Founded by: Evan Williams
- Today owned by: Google Inc
- Launched in: August 1999
- Users: According to Alexa records, the site ranked seventh in November 2011.
The most interesting feature of Blogger is that it supports Google’s AdSense service and so, you can earn money by running a blog. Its ‘multiple author support’ allows you to establish ‘group blogs’. Those who are fond of writing can enjoy writing now. Every minute, one new blog is created, so you can imagine how this website has turned the print-world upside down.
Huffington Post, WordPress, TypePad, Squarespace, MySpace, etc., are some other popular blogging websites.
There are hundreds of such websites that changed the Internet world and it is impossible to enlist all here. It is just a matter of presenting the right idea at the right time. With the Internet, you can reach billions of people within a fraction of a second. Instant communication and better information have changed the mode of education, business, shopping, entertainment, health services, in fact, every aspect of life.
It is a fact that the Internet has changed the world, but it has not been all smooth sailing. Along with advantages, the Internet has its own set of disadvantages too. Increasing number of spam, plagiarism, online frauds and Internet crimes are a concern worldwide. The Internet has recently completed 40 years and it seems that it is going through a midlife crisis now. But still, ‘Internet’ is something that we would never want to live without ever again.