Monday, December 15, 2014

Virtual Path Dependence

Saw this figure tonight from the Washington Post (thanks Theo F)--top twenty websites since 1996:

My first reaction was Path Dependence!  How so, given that most of the sites that were hot in 1996 are not so popular now?  Wait, let's look at the last few years first:

Yahoo > Google?  That is just very surprising.  Ok, what really surprised me was AOL and Ask.  AOL?  I guess they did an amazing job of being big early so that even as it no longer became necessary to have something like AOL to be the lobby to the internet, it remains that.  And Ask?  I had some friends who were in on Ask Jeeves at the outset, when it was a competitor with google.  That it remains among the top twenty is most interesting--one can lose to google in the search game and still be relevant.  Glam Media?

Ok, let's go in the way back machine:

 Nearly all of those are pretty much gone.  Geocities?  That used to be a key portal along with Prodigy.  Some search engines did not survive or at least thrive--webcrawler and infoseek.  I love that some of these key cites were the original key nodes of the internet--MIT, UIUC, CMU.  Penthouse reminds us of one key reality.  Amazon was earlier than I thought. 

Anyhow, this reminds me how much has happened since I left grad school in 1993.  What do you remember of the internet when you started surfing?

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