The internet is a part of our everyday life. It has been so for a few decades now, but that truth is becoming increasingly visible in our everyday lives. As a matter of fact, people are starting to becoming heavily reliant on the internet and the services for which it is a medium. People are starting to become uncomfortable at the thought of being without internet access for a month, week or even a day.
What if I told you that you had to go work at a location where there is no internet access? Would you do it? And for how long? I guess some still would, but many for sure would opt out of this offer!
One of the very first services product to us by the www dot, or the World Wide Web, is Email Service. The emailing service brought to us the ability to send messages around the world in seconds, with the click of a few buttons. You needed an email address, such as: email@example.com, and a password for that email that only you knew. Well, I guess all readers by now will be familiar with this since it is old news.
There were quite a number of Email Service Providers on the world wide web when the Emailing Services Gold Rush began. There was Hotmail by MSN, Yahoo, Rogers and many others. Needless to say, Yahoo Mail was the clear-cut winner in the race to provide the best email services, and even today my primary email is a Yahoo! email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
But at the very start of it all, not everyone had an email address. Email started to replace the traditional postal mail and even telephone, yes, but you had to call your friend or relative and say “hey, do you have an email account yet?” I guess that was the golden days. Today, email is second nature to almost everyone. Today, the question would be “hey, what’s your email address please?” or “send me your email address.”
Everybody seems to have email. And with email came the bulk mail. Thousands and thousands of companies capitalized on the power of “email marketing.” Now that everyone has an email address, why not just send them a quick message about your product or services? Yes, marketing companies started to buy out email addresses in bulk and emailing everyone about their products and services and sometimes their scam offers.
Some companies got access to these email addresses legitimately, by making deals or purchasing from email service providers, while others used more subtle and seductive means, such as hacking software and misleading websites.
With the onslaught of advertising that was to hit everyone’s mailbox, the idea of “junk mail” or “spam” was born. People were getting fed up of seeing all these advertisements in their mailbox. Sometimes, you had to comb through a ton of junk to see the email you are looking for. To be of better service to their users, Email Service Providers started to fight back. They created the “spam” or “junk mail” folder and devised methods to recognize unwanted ads and filter them to this folder. This helped to cut down on the alarming number of junk mail which landed in one’s folders. But spammers started to fight back. They devised new and innovative ways of slipping past an Email Service’s spam filtering mechanism, and they were somewhat successful.
It got to a point where Congress had to pass laws to outlaw the sending of unwanted emails. This led to “opt in” and “double opt in” techniques. Now, spammers can be taken to court for sending unwanted emails, and they can be charged unless they can prove that the recipient had “opted in” to receive such an email. This was called the “anti-spam act.”
At the same time, the can-spam law was passed, which allowed mass emailing to people who had “opted in.” Usually a double-opt-in was a better bet for protection in a court of law. What is opt in? Before anyone could email you an advertisement about a certain product or service, they had to get your permission. This means you had to sign up somewhere on the web through an email sign-up form. Those the terms “landing pages,” “lead capture,” etc were born.
With the advent of email came many other web services. Email services led to the bloom of many other email-based offshoots. One of the most notable of these is the social media boom. First there was Hi5, then MySpace, and now Facebook has taken the torch and is running full board ahead with it.
Next came the selling of digital products, self publishing services, online stores, chat applications, dating sites and the list goes on and on.
I’ll be discussing these and many other such web services and products under this heading. Stay tuned and remember to sign up to my newsletter to get updated about what’s new on “Computers and Internet by Patrick Carpen.”