Home How Much – and How Little – the Web Has Changed in 9 Years

How Much – and How Little – the Web Has Changed in 9 Years

For ReadWriteWeb’s ninth anniversary last week, our founder and Editor-in-Chief Richard MacManus took a loving look back at how the site has evolved over the years. But RWW isn’t the only thing that has stuck around even as it’s morphed over the past almost-decade.

The Web has changed dramatically over those nine years, but a surprising number of top issues from 2003 are still prominent in today’s news. Back then, we had to deal with a recovering economy, the rise of Dell and Linux in the enterprise, private data collection, and a lack of Web application security. Many of those same issues are still resonating today.

  • Hard economic times. The Internet bubble burst in 2000/2001, but in 2003 we were still dealing with some tough times. It seems as though we are always either coming out of one bubble or going into another one. Here is something that I wrote then: Surely, those wild-ride days of the late 1990s are over: We live in more sober times and many of us are lucky to still have jobs in this industry. I know many friends who have decades of experience and are looking for work after several months.
  • Enterprise wireless management was just getting going back then, and while now we almost take wireless access for granted, there were some issues with deploying wireless networks nine years ago. And guess what? With BYOD, there still are issues. I wrote then: Enterprise network administrators are finding out that managing all this mobility is messy and fraught with multiple complicating factors, making wireless networks more of a burden than dealing with wired connections. The reasons have to do with a combination of poor tools and the ad hoc nature of wireless networks themselves. Sadly, while we have newer tools, they still aren’t where they should be.
  • Dell as the dominant player in desktop PCs. In the past nine years, IBM has left the desktop PC market, and many other vendors who were active then have disappeared from the landscape. But Dell has solidified its position, and indeed has made several strategic non-PC purchases over the years to widen its reach beyond desktops and show its dominance in the IT marketplace. I wrote back then: I think Dell has set the tone for 2002, and will continue to do so in the coming years. And they are like a Predator-guided aircraft, homing in on excess profits all over the computer industry landscape.
  • Google wasn’t the only big company collecting private user data. While Google has tried not to be evil, it has run into problems with capturing user data through its street-by-street monitoring vehicles. Back in 2001, Microsoft was collecting information on individuals’ use of their operating systems through a globally unique identifier. Some things never change.
  • Astroturfing online comments. The strategy of adding comments to a website from people who aren’t real (or who misrepresent themselves) happened back then, too. This is how I described it: The grassroots lobbying organizations have figured out their own take on mass customization, and are now locked in a new technological war with the editorial page editors across the country. Blame it all on the Web. The technique has been labeled “Op-ed Astroturf.”
  • The rise of Linux. Linux has been around a lot longer than 9 years, but even back then we saw its advantages. Those advantages live on: And many developers are weighing doing their own open systems shuffle. They are finding out that the payment to implement an all-Microsoft solution is too pricey for these penurious times. If a consultant can deliver the same application for $50,000 less by using Linux and open systems tools, they will do it.
  • VM servers. The advantages of using virtual-machine server technology were apparent nine years ago, even if the technology still had a long way to go: And one of the best ways to fight server sprawl is to deploy virtual machine technology to run multiple simulated server environments on a single machine.
  • Web application security. It seems as though we were just as careless about Web app security nine years ago as we are now. The same exploits that we saw then, such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting, are still happening today. In 2003, I wrote: Port 80, the communications port that is used by mostly all Web servers, has become the great applications dumping ground and a back door to entering many corporate networks.

Yes, some of these are megatrends and some things never change. But you can’t help being struck by how similar things sounded nine years ago, even though the Web was a lot newer and the technologies nowhere near as sophisticated as they are now.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

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