10. Instant messaging
Real time communication has brought people together. Instant messaging programs such as MSN Messenger, Yahoo Instant Messenger, AIM and ICQ had exponential growth in popularilty during the 1990’s and early 2000’s and still today are the number one medium for talking to friends and relatives on the other side of the city, let alone the other side of the world. With many IM applications now supporting video and audio, international phone calls now come a distant second for tech-savvy internet users.
9. Social networking
Sadly, Myspace and Facebook are exceedingly popular. It’s something we have to deal with, and hence this is its acknowledgement. Granted, whether this is a fad or a phase that the internet is going through remains to be seen, so until social networking has cemented its place in the internet world it will have to settle with number 9. One thing that can’t be disputed though, is that Myspace and Facebook will always be remembered as the sites who began the transition into Web 2.0. They have taken user interactions to a whole new level, and for that these websites must be commended. For the terrible layouts, design and in some cases, lack of usability… well, what can I say?
8. Online banking
This sort of slips beneath the radar when thinking about things which changed the way we live, but if truth be known, accessing our bank accounts from the convenience of our living room is something that millions of people are doing. There are the obvious concerns with security though, and until all of these issues are addressed there will always be a group of people wary of entering the world of online banking, and this will halt its progress for some time yet. At the moment, security tokens are being trialed by some financial institutions. These are devices which generate a temporary password which only the genuine owner has access to for a short period of time. Absolutely, this is a step in the right direction.