Wikipedia Just over 10 years ago there was no Wikipedia. Think about that for a minute before you go look up on Wikipedia the exact date it was founded on. Most of the time when you look something up on Google you end up on a Wikipedia page — to find that one quick tidbit that settles a dispute. It's used by 12.8% of internet users monthly. That's amazing.
2. Google Speaking of Google, they came around in 1998 and became a public company in 2004 — just 8 years ago! Google has since become a verb, powering nearly all the searches in our browser - unless you're Chandler Bing. They manage the most used e-mail service and offer suites of free online tools that any of us can use to share or collaborate on a file or project. What were we doing before? Exchanging floppy disks? 3. Amazon Thank you Amazon. Not just for giving us all access to just about every product (and often at the lowest price), but for those reviews! This is perhaps the most helpful aspect of Amazon for me personally and something I rely on whether I'm making a purchase through Amazon's site or at a local brick and mortar. Proving that there is indeed power in numbers, you can find relevant, helpful reviews for just about every product with minimal effort. It minimizes the chance we buy something that's a dud of a product.
4. Blogs Somewhere amidst the grunge of the 90's emerged the very first "weblogs". This term was later shortened to blog — with the writers being dubbed bloggers — and it soon grew into a cultural phenomenon. Suddenly everyone had the tools to share their voice with the world and perhaps spread their influence to others. The fact that I wouldn't have met some of the great people I know today (through writing for this very blog) is one that is not lost on me. This medium gives us a chance to read, engage, and open our minds to the thoughts and perspectives of individuals everywhere. Wow! 5. Facebook Social media as we now know it, can all be chalked up to the invention of Facebook. It launched just 8 years ago in 2004 and now has over 1 billion users. 1 billion! Facebook gives us the chance to reconnect with old friends (and get embarrassed by our parent's ALL CAPS comments). In a few flicks of a scroll wheel or a few swipes of a finger you can find out what all your friends and family are up to. What they're thinking about. What they're getting ready to cook for dinner. Like blogs before it, Facebook gives us the chance to share things simply and easily and connect with people in ways we couldn't before. (Images: 1. Scientific American 2. Wikipedia 3. Leah Sakellarides of Velokova)