What has the Web ever done for us?
I never imagined the power of the web. In the nineties I surfed the web for hours simply because I could, bought books and music and felt proud of my seventy year old Dad booking flights and ferry tickets and emailing the pen friend he'd had since before the war.
For me, the web had its greatest moment when it saved my Dad's life. When he blacked out and drove his car into a ditch, my sister and I, alarmed by the hospital's decision to send him home without treatment, went straight on the web. So, we 'knew ' he had a heart condition, that blackouts would recur, fatal if ignored, but that there was a good prognosis with a pacemaker. We made sure he was never left alone and Mum knew to call an ambulance instantly. Three days later that ambulance was called, he had emergency surgery, got his pacemaker and is still going strong. And yes, I know the web has also spawned hypochondria and that medics find our amateur diagnostics infuriating. But hey, it saved my Dad.
We all have our own stories of how access to the right information at the right time made a real difference.
The power of the web now lies in its conversations. Twitter allows you to tell me about your life in Iran, the plane landing on the river outside your office or your row with the gas board. We talk - others eavesdrop. The successful petition for an apology to Alan Turing was amplified across social networks. "Chat" on Twitter about the neglected WW2 veterans and buildings of Bletchley Park has also led to curiosity about their work and a significant increase in visitor numbers. It may even have played a part in their successful application for £450,000 of lottery funding. You'll have more examples.
I can talk to government minsters, to scientists I admire and to witty strangers. My interest is technology and I know my peripheral knowledge has improved. The same would apply if I were a beekeeper, a footballer or a cardiac surgeon. If we choose we can be more aware.
That also applies to modern business practice.
If you're an airline whose baggage handlers damaged a guitar and most significantly were slow to offer compensation, then I can enjoy imagining you squirm at the song up on You Tube. It had 2,000 views when I first saw it. I've just checked and it now has 5,709,097.
Many of my virtual connections have become real life ones, professionally and socially. I've found collaborators for work projects and people who share my passion for food and film.
My generation grew up in an era where most conversations were one-to-one and private. Some conversations are now one -to -many and even one to one conversations are public. My daughter is 21 and she's grown up communicating as a group. Only time will tell how this will really affect her way of thinking.
So what's the most significant thing the web has done for you?