I’ve been involved with the Net for years, starting in the fall of 1990 at the University of Chicago. I remember the first release of Mosaic clearly; since I had Motif for my Linux box I eagerly downloaded and compiled it, and then posted a Linux binary of it for download within a few days of its release. I remember days when I started at the “What’s New” page and stopped when I’d read the entire Net. I remember www.mtv.com, the first time. I remember the first round of “Internet” articles in the mainstream media, like The New York Times. I remember when the Puget Sound Computer User somehow screwed up and claimed that I’d written Mosiac :-).
As clear as anything, though, I remember the day that The Net became a part of The Normal World. I’d just walked out of the library and there it was–a shiny new UPS truck with “http://www.ups.com” on the side. Clearly, the Net Had Arrived if UPS thought it was worth it to print a URL on the side of their trucks.
Over the years, they seem to have dropped the “http://” from the front, as a kind of backhanded statement on how common web browsing has become. After all, http:// is almost completely redundant with modern browsers.
This morning, on the way to work, I saw another new, shiny UPS truck, with their newest design. With a bit of sadness, I noticed that the “www.ups.com” was gone from the side. I suppose it’s fitting that UPS trucks have come to symbolize the growth of the Net to me–from shock, to familiarity, to such complete ubiquity that there’s no reason to even print UPS’s URL on their trucks.