Ten Internet Years: The Washington Post wishes itself happy anniversary

The Washingtonpost.com three-part anniversary retrospective on “ten Internet years


The Washingtonpost.com three-part anniversary retrospective on “Ten Internet Years” in online journalism, traces the evolution of the delivery of news online and marks the role it has played in that evolution. Here are some highlights from the three essays reflecting on the first ten years of Washingtonpost.com:

Web Site Starts From a Memo, Gains Millions of Readers

It was August 1992. There were no wireless laptops, no BlackBerries, no blogs, no rush to flip on cell phones as soon as your plane hit the runway. Yet, in his hand-written memo, sparked after attending an Apple-organized conference in Hakone, Japan, Kaiser took a peek into a crystal ball of technology and proposed that the company "design the world's first electronic newspaper."

We could organize the entire paper electronically with a series of 'front pages' and other devices that would guide readers the way our traditional cues do -- headlines, captions, story placement, etc..And we could explore the feasibility of incorporating ads in the electronic paper.

As the Internet Grows Up, the News Industry Is Forever Changed

Old media has learned that simply shoveling content from one medium to the Web doesn't work, any more than reading a newspaper into a TV camera capitalizes on the strength of that medium. Technology has driven behavioral changes, as reporters, producers, photographers and editors learn that interactivity in the form of e-mail, blogs, polls, hyperlinks, Videologs, podcasts and news delivered via cell phones can open their work up to a newer and bigger audience, for better or worse. It's far easier for a reader to find a reporter now than it was in the past; it's also easier for a story published overseas or in a local or regional outlet to have a bigger impact. No longer are readers or viewers bound by network broadcast schedules, the delivery of a newspaper or magazine or the top-of-the-hour radio headlines.

Web Users Open the Gates

The "closed" system of gates and gatekeepers has been busted open. What's the most amazing thing about the new media world? Its low barriers to entry. Thanks to the Internet, it is cheap and simple to launch a site that, theoretically, the whole world could be watching. Yesterday there were a few dozen providers; today news, views and attitudes stream through millions of gates. And the Web accepts all kinds of gatekeepers, each with unique rules for what matters, rather than the rules adopted by a class of professionals with set journalistic principles. For the old gatekeepers that's a big disruption.

FOR A DISCUSSION ON SOCIAL MEDIA ONLINE SEE "Social freeloaders: Is there a collective wisdom and can the Web obtain it?"