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25 ways the world wide web changed our lives forever

Staffordshire | News | Published:

The world wide web is 25 years old today. Once the preserve of scrawny young men, hunched over computers and tying up their parents phone lines, it is now an essential part of life writes Daniel Wainwright.

People meet on it, fall in love over it, do their shopping on it, organise revolutions on it and share videos of cats playing keyboards.

Its British inventor Sir Tim Berners Lee has changed the world forever. Here are 25 reasons why:

1. E-mail: It seems almost old fashioned now, sending an e-mail to one or more people when you can just fire up Twitter and tell the entire world. It came about in 1993 in an age when people thought fax machines were the height of technical sophistication.

2. Smartphones: Today is the anniversary of the world wide web. The internet itself dates back to the 1960s as a communications tool developed by the US Defence Department. By the 1980s it had a few thousand computers connected to it. Sir Tim wrote the first world wide web server in 1989 and now we can get emails, apps and everything else web-related on our phones. Oh and Angry Birds too.

3. Speed: Shortly after the world wide web was publicly launched in 1991, it needed a 14,400 bits per second modem. An average song from Appleâ??s iTunes store is now about four megabytes, so you'??d probably need to have been connected to the phone for 45 minutes just to get one tune, let alone a whole album.

4. Dating: One in five relationships now start over the internet. It's a £2 billion industry. No likey, no clicky.

5. Shopping: Amazon'??s warehouse in Rugeley is the size of 10 football pitches. Thousands of people work there. And as a country we'??re spending half a billion pounds a week with online retailers who can deliver straight to our homes.

6. Facebook: Who needs to go to a school reunion now? Just have a look through classmates photos wheneverand pick out who has gone bald, whose face looks likes a bag of spanner and whose bum resembles a burst bag of broad beans.

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7. Twitter: The means by which the protesters communicated and called for the uprisings that led to the Arab spring and the overthrow of governments. And the way to share Photoshopped pics of celebs at the Oscars with yourself in the shot.

8. eBay: Online auctions where you can buy and sell old tat. are a bit like a big game of chance where you have to time your bid exactly right to get the bargain at the last second.

9. Gambling: Fancy being James Bond but don'??t have a tux and cannot be bothered to drive the Aston Martin all the way to the casino? Just do it at home, in your pants. Just try not to lose your shirt

10. Sex: To ignore online pornography would be to dismiss a significant section of the internet. About 14 per cent of searches and four per cent of websites are devoted to sex. The days of embarrassed exchanges with the newsagent for mucky mags are over

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11. Business: No one owns the web. But huge business empires have been built because of it, such as Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook.

12. Video calling: Being able to see the person on the other end of the phone used to be something from the sci-fi world of Thunderbirds. But thanks to Skype and Apple'??s FaceTime, it is a doddle.

13. Pub quizzes: Thanks to the web and advances in smartphones and tablets, we carry the sum of all human understanding in our pockets.

14. Selfies: Who would have thought that you'??d have the captain of the Starship Enterprise poking fun at the Prime Minister of the UK? But that happened thanks to the web. Sir Patrick Stewart took a picture of himself with a tub of wet wipes to ridicule the '??serious'?? face of David Cameron as he discussed the situation in Ukraine.

15. DIY tips: Low water pressure in the boiler? Ask someone over the internet before calling a plumber. Turns out you might just need to a twiddle a knob.

16. YouTube and video sharing part one; The Good - a mobile phone film of new Doctor Who Peter Capaldi reassuring a fan that he'??ll be as good as Matt Smith was shared all over the world.

17. YouTube and video sharing part two: The Bad -?? People filming themselves downing pints or other substances and '??neknominating' others to do italong with stupid stunts, risking life and limb in the process.

18. On-demand telly: Forgot to record Eastenders? No problem. It'??s on iPlayer. Fancy seeing every episode of Father Ted for free? It's on 4od.

19. Trolling: Sad, lonely losers who think it's all right to hurl vile abuse at people through social media. It's led to suicides and court cases. Cannock'??s Stan Collymore has asked Twitter to tighten up how it deals with online abuse

20. Celeb spats: Whether it'??s Lily Allen hitting back at Apprentice contestant Katie Hopkins over hurtful comments about her baby weight or Piers Morgan calling Jeremy Clarkson a pot-bellied pig, all the celebs'?? dirty laundry gets a public airing for our guilty pleasure.

21. Street View: Fancy buying a house but want to see what it looks like before arranging a viewing? Google has photographed almost every public road and put the pics on the web for free. It also works for checking out a restaurant before booking it for a romantic date. The last thing you want when you'??re all dressed up and in the taxi is to find out it'??s just a kebab house.

22. Self-diagnosis: Not feeling well? Search for your symptoms online and discuss them on web forums, ring NHS 111 for advice then end up going to A&E anyway because all that stuff you read online made you worried your head will cave in.

23. Games: Cheap or free, highly addictive games for smartphones and tablets are everywhere. The internet has eradicated boredom and productivity forever

24. Crowdsourcing: Whether raising money for charity through sites like Justgiving or trying to fund a project through Kickstarter, the internet lets you promote a cause and get support at the touch of a button. It'??s helped get the money to do a big screen version of cult TV show Veronica Mars and it'??s helped to find donors of bone marrow willing to give adorable Margot Martini, a chance of recovering from leukaemia.

25. Google: Need to know anything else about the internet? Google it. Sorted.

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