Has Web boredom arrived?

Last week I received an e-mail from a listener to my WebTalkGuys radio show who wrote he was bored with the Web because “all the fun stuff is mostly gone now.”

I found that to be an interesting observation. I imagine one could see the present online experience that way if one was still accessing the Web via dial-up Internet access.

The Internet and Web have moved to a very commercial stage of its development and that has tended to cause most things online to have a profit motive for creation.

I have spoken to many Web users who feel that since the dot-com bust, innovation has declined dramatically as venture capital dried up.

This is very true for major Websites start-up companies. These people thought the Web was dead and for about six to 12 months it really had stopped becoming the darling of the new economy.

The Web had a very negative image from people losing their jobs and life savings in the stock market.

I remember people laughing when anyone mentioned making money on the Web. They would say that e-commerce would never work and used Amazon.com as the example of a never-profitable e-commerce company.

At the time those folks were correct. They were just lacking vision for what was coming. Some folks were patient, stayed with it and gave the Web time to mature and for all of us to learn how to best use it.

I did wonder what impact broadband connections would have on Internet use. One thing I was very sure of was that it would be much more exciting to use the Web at high speed.

I first got a taste for it when I worked for free ISP FreeInternet.com in 2000. I remember sitting at my desk and getting a mind blowing 6 MB Internet connection to my work desktop through the huge bandwidth pipe in the building.

I searched for streaming videos and large programs that I could download. I was hooked on the wild ride of the Internet’s future. I could see what was around the corner and it was exciting.

In 2001 and most of 2002 most home users accessed the Internet via a dial-up modem as broadband had not really made a dent into the home market.

AOL was king with 23-30-plus million 56K users – and I must say that created the most boredom of all.

I struggled to get beyond dial-up with an ISDN line into my home. My next-door neighbor installed a 256K DSL line into his home.

However, I could not because my telephone line was line-shared with the home on the other side.

This created a situation where I only got half the speed from my regular dial-up phone line and my new ISDN line only allowed about 90K out of a potential 128K. This was better, but nowhere good enough.

I never did get a DSL line, but in early 2002 ATT Broadband came into my home office and everything changed. I had reached the promised land of 1+ MB per second into the home. I wasn’t alone. Others were seeing broadband’s potential and signing up fast.

DSL had grown fast just prior to cables widespread deployment and had taken the early lead, but the speed of cable gave it the advantage as the best value choice.

I even decided to move our recording studio for WebTalkGuys Radio Show into our home to take advantage of the high-speed Internet access.

We were able to save tons of money we would have spent on office space, parking and the commute. We were already seeing the benefits of broadband without ever touching the mouse.

The message that I am trying to communicate is that the development of the Web is a long-term process.

The Web started as an over-hyped fad that got exploited for fast riches by many who are willing to toss aside ethical business practices for the fast bucks.

The truth is that the Internet and Web has now starting to blossom as a mature and profitable business environment.

The Internet and Web is just starting to be fun as we get more speed. Boredom is a term that is getting used less all the time. Boredom should not be confused with the fact that things cost money online.

It is because of the Web’s new found commercial success that is leading to the return of online fun.

The speedy Web will bring us online games, video and personal communications like we can hardly imagine today. Speed is bringing us back from boredom; we are just seeing a peek of what is to come.

Rob Greenlee is host of the WebTalkGuys Radio Show, a Tacoma-based radio and webcast show featuring technology news and interviews. He is the husband of Dana Greenlee, who normally writes this column.