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Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
Readers' panel: Web anniversary
Sunday 6 August marks the 15th anniversary of the publication of computer files credited as the start of the World Wide Web. The publication, by Tim Berners-Lee, began the spread of computer interaction that has led to the web as we know it.

There are now 882 million people around the world online reading more than 100 million websites, and with each website offering potentially millions of pages of content.

To mark the birthday we've drawn together a panel of web-users from across the world, to give us their thoughts on the birth, the worst, and the future of the web.

Today's question to the panel: How has the internet changed your life?

Joe Dynamo
Joe
Annapolis, USA

Karen Inda
Karen
Prague, Czech Rep

David Mohammad Yaghoobi
David
Tehran, Iran

Gabriel Kalonde Chingwe
Gabriel
Lusaka, Zambia

Elson Silva
Elson
Campinas, Brazil

Gail
Gail
Seoul, South Korea

JOE DYNAMO, ANNAPOLIS, USA

Joe Dynamo
Joe used to live in a school bus, now he's an IT consultant
In 1994 I was living in a school bus. I actually did not care much for computers as I saw them as a way for our government to track people like me and end my way of life.

A friend of mine showed me what they could do - printing signs and keeping books for my tiny but steadily growing business.

I would go out and work enough to buy more parts for my computer and upgrade, upgrade, upgrade. I started working on remote systems learning how to get around and do basic tasks.

I had met a woman several months back when I had first gotten a modem. She came out to visit me so we could both see if we had two heads. We got pregnant; I got a haircut and some dress clothes. The computers took up the living room, we had eight I think.

By the time the baby came, I had changed jobs and was running an internet hosting service for my online friends, from my house as a hobby.

If it was not for the internet I would never have taken this path to this life
We moved to Switzerland and setup a web bulletin board system to keep in touch with our families in the States and we posted to it most days and so did the rest of the family. The family lives all over the place, it was a really great thing it kept us all close.

I came home after three years and found a job working for the US Army of all things, supporting their global portal and e-mail. This was an amazing job and I found it on the web.

Today I have a loving wife, and two beautiful daughters. I am an IT consultant working on portal infrastructure.

I have my wife to thank for everything we share today. However if it was not for the web I would never have met her or taken this path to this life.

This is a long way from the houseless hippie, and the broke bus in a vacant inner city lot.

GABRIEL KALONDE CHINGWE, LUSAKA, ZAMBIA

Gabriel Kalonde Chingwe
Gabriel is a fan of BBC Africa Have Your Say
Simply put, with the web I am now able to do things I would ordinarily not have been able to do without difficulty.

For example, I read the BBC website for the latest news every hour. I send in my thoughts on various issues especially regarding the African continent on Africa Have Your Say.

Equally, I am positive the BBC also develops a very huge database from people's opinions on various topics from all around the world.

Whatever information you require, be it health, politics, science, religion, etc. it is all posted on the internet...currently for free!

So it's not only about sending and receiving e-mails but about information, education and entertainment.

Some people have married from the internet whilst others have done courses on the internet. Yet others have bought and sold property and assets which is very fundamental for a complete life.

This technology has just made the world more competitive, innovative and efficient
All this can be done with great speed, efficiency and security. That's how the internet has changed my life.

Which ever way you look at it, the world will never be the same now we have the internet. I work for the private sector and this technology has just made the world more competitive, innovative and efficient.

Imagine this communication with you today has just been turned around within an hour or two yet a decade ago it would have taken months.

KAREN INDA, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

Karen Inda
Karen and her husband run their business from laptops
The internet has allowed us to live in a variety of countries and travel all over the world while successfully running our software company.

We've been developing and selling personal desktop software since 1992. Before the web existed, people would find our original product, Time Palette, on dial-up bulletin board systems.

At that time, all purchases were done by post.

In 1998, we launched a website and began taking payments by credit card over the internet. When we released EarthDesk in 2002, our sales soared.

We quickly realised that we could quit our jobs and move overseas, fulfilling our dream of living and traveling all over the world.

Since 2002, we've lived in five countries and spent eight months traveling around the world with backpacks - all while running the business from a pair of laptops.

We've answered tech support messages from Laos and uploaded new versions of our software from Tbilisi.

In Dubai, we have developed a unique audio-software product called pzizz with our business partner.

We can live anywhere in the world and travel indefinitely, as long as we have good internet
All of the people involved live in different countries (Britain, Czech Republic, Malta, UAE, South Africa and Thailand) and the entire group has never been in the same room (or country) together.

We keep in touch through video conferencing and instant messaging... a situation that would be impossible without the internet.

With the nature of our business, we can literally live anywhere in the world and travel indefinitely, as long as we have good internet.

We use the internet to pay ourselves a salary, pay business expenses, and pay our credit cards off each month.

The web has helped us stay in touch with family and friends, first with e-mail and now with Skype.

The web is also our main source of information regarding the country we are in and the countries we are going to. We research visa requirements, look at maps, find places to stay, etc.

Of course, when it comes to actually visiting a new country, nothing beats a good old-fashioned guidebook.

ELSON SILVA, PhD, CAMPINAS, BRAZIL

Elson Silva, PhD
Elson researches hydro- and thermo-dynamics online
My life has changed because I can be a scientist, with the highest control over my life, and not portrayed as a 'weirdo' by the media making science a sensationalised product.

I am neither pursuing fame nor wealth, I just like doing things and I can sit for hours in front of my monitor getting them done.

The web has let me change the way man can make scientific practice comply with theory.

It allows me to explore a 'scientific discovery', and bring change never achieved before, like new conceptions in hydrodynamics of fluids moving on porous system; from self-watering flower pots, irrigation, drainage, to heat transfer or fuel cells, propulsion and engines that can burn biomass accepting solid fuel.

My last patent on Heat Transfer explains how life started as a game between Hydrodynamics and Thermodynamics. The web helped me to research it and has shown me the boundaries of knowledge.

I can gather the most precious and fresh information, not only for my scientific projects but also applied to my own existence as a human being, part of a system that is going on for millions of years.

Da Vinci and Newton did not have such technological tools
Almost anything available online around the world can be brought to my screen faster than standing up to search the shelves behind me.

Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Antoine Lavoisier, etc. did not have such technological tools for their chores, so think what we can do.

The internet makes me feel like just one more person, mingling with others, and deeply self-conscious of my human existence within nature.

I am not special in the virtual world and my children will overtake me since evolution is forever taking place in nature and the net.

DAVID MOHAMMAD YAGHOOBI, TEHRAN, IRAN

David Mohammad Yaghoobi
David runs a blog and a business from Tehran
The web has changed my life by providing - in a word - accessibility. With considerable ease and little cost (if at all) I can access many tools and services that are readily available allowing for inter-relations, personal education and, at times, a living.

The biggest change I can note is that of perspective.

This is maybe due to the interactive ability of the web whereas TV/Radio is passive and the printed word tedious.

Access to media with such ease and in such scope has advanced me in a way that other media were unable or unwilling to.

Specifically, access to news from a multitude of angles has enlightened me to a world I have not been presented with, perspectives I have not considered and a history I now struggle to comprehend - all of which is available at my convenience.

Having access to counter-opinion and resources of reference has been a huge eye-opener and possibly contributed toward making myself, and no doubt many others, more responsible and aware as people.

Being without the web would be a disaster
On a personal level, regarding relationships (friends, family and other) people are now simply a screen and key-tap away, accessible 24/7, 365 days of the year, either directly or through an inbox or offline message.

As I am currently an expat in Tehran, the internet is essential both regarding my work (fulfilling requests in Iran for UK clients) and contacts back "home".

I usually begin and end my days engaging the world wide web, either in messenger conversations, reading news or uploading and downloading.

A fair amount of my work is currently based on the internet or needs it, so being without it would be both a disaster and probably a welcomed moment.

Even as I write I am conducting messenger conversations with a friend, posting to a forum, updating a photo journal, checking my blog comments and e-mailing on business matters - communicating beyond those physically before me, enabled by the web.

GAIL, SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA

Gail
Gail is a lifestyle and travel writer, based in Seoul
I have lived abroad for eight years and the web now makes the distances between us and home seem much smaller.

We use webcams so that we can see each other, my kids can show their grandparents in the UK when they have lost a tooth, if they have made a particularly amazing picture, or their latest toy.

Our kids are also getting to know children of our friends who live all over the world through the computer, so that when we eventually meet, the faces are at least familiar to them.

We are currently en route to Seoul in Korea from living in Bangkok, Thailand and we have already done webcam calls with friends we have recently left behind. It makes leaving a place easier.

As a freelance travel and lifestyle writer, I use the web for masses of quick research, and also to send my work, and pitches for new work, to publishers all over the world.

Establishing this role would have been much slower without the internet.

The latest change has been the ability to self-publish
Life has been made easier for us as roving expats since we are able to learn more about places when negotiating contracts and before we go there.

As part of our family move to Seoul, I have gathered a huge amount of information about Korea and living in Seoul, made contacts and even had a job interview based on research I did on the internet. Although actually paying US$30 for a bag of fresh coffee was a shock!

The latest change has been the ability to self-publish without having to set up a website.

I set up my first blog when I went to Korea a couple of weeks ago, so that and see what we have been up to at times convenient to them.

With an eight hour time difference it is hard to phone people at the right time and with my blog my friends and family can log in when it suits them and read about our immersion into Korean society.

Tomorrow the panel tell us when they first used the web.


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