In the history of computing why is the Internet one of the most significant technological advances?

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In Thomas Friedman's breakthrough book The World is Flat,
chapter 2 talks about "The Ten Forces that Flattened the World".

  • The breaking of the Berlin Wall
  • World Wide Web/Netscape
  • Productivity Software
  • Up/Downloading
  • Advertising online
  • Offshoring
  • Outsourcing
  • Insourcing
  • Steroids, or portability of technology

Although the ten forces are listed chronologically, the first two major events are extrapolated and compared as to their influence in the advent of globalization.

These events are the breaking of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the advent of the Internet in 1995. The breaking of the Berlin Wall, though is by no means THE most important event to ever occur, is certainly an allegory for what was to come: here we see the elimination of a physical boundary that would result in the final connection between two worlds that, despite of originating from the same race and ethnicity,  had alienated each other. East and West Germany were foes and brothers at the same time. These two man-made worlds wondered about each other, fictionalized one another, and maybe even demonized one another because they lacked the most important tool of human life: communication.

Hence, the demolition of the Wall not only symbolized the final end of the Cold War era, but also represented a foreshadowing of what the Internet would mean to the rest of the world.

When Netscape and the World Wide Web became ever-present in 1995, something quite similar to what took place in Germany occurred, only this time it would affect the entire planet. No longer would physical barriers prevent the instant access of one human being to another. No longer will factors such as time, space, location, disability, or even intelligence will affect communication. The most important tool of the human race was finally accessible to all people. What's most important, this tool was either cheap or free of charge, ubiquitous, and extremely easy to use.

Therefore, what makes the Internet the most significant technological advances is that it enabled communication, the most important factor of human existence, to flow as naturally, as accessibly, and as powerfully as could possibly be.

The world before the advent of the Internet is quite silent; there was no YouTube, Sirus, Pandora, AOLmusic, nor streaming permeating the waves of the air. Similarly, the sounds of keyboards tapping to blogs, social networks, and online games had not yet been born. Imagine a world where people could only fathom about one another and could only get any information through potentially outdated books, through phone calls, fax, or letters. It was a time-consuming, quiet, and limited world, indeed. The Internet changed all of that. We are no longer a clunky, slow planet. What's most interesting, this transformation began less than 23 years ago.

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