Definition

Web year

A Web year has been said to be the length of time it takes for Internet technology to evolve as much as technology in another environment might evolve in a calendar year. The term was coined at a time when the Internet and Web technology and culture were progressing at a phenomenal rate. The term is sometimes attributed to Lou Gerstner, then head of IBM. According to Larry Kunz, then the editor of IBM's Network Connection, the idea of a Web year was introduced by an unnamed female colleague in 1996.

In a 1996 interview in the WWW Journal, Tim Berners-Lee, chief inventor of the Web technologies, said: "What is a Web year now, about three months? And when people can browse around, discover new things, and download them fast, when we all have agents - then Web years could slip by before human beings can notice." When the interviewer suggested that such a pace would "take a physical toll" on people who work on the Web, Berners-Lee agreed that was true, but added that they would also "be able to live for three or four hundred Web years, which will be very exciting."

This was last updated in January 2008

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The term "Net Year" was coined by Dr. Thomas Whalen at the Communications Research Centre. It was described as an analogy to "dog years". As a dog ages seven years for every chronological year, so Internet technologies develop about ten times as fast as conventional technologies. His laboratory put CBC radio on the Web in January 1994. Diane Williamson, a vice president of CBC used this analogy in an address at a conference and injected the idea into Internet culture. It was later re-named as a "Web Year".
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