Twenty-five years ago today, Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote a paper that proposed the basic concept and structure of what we now know as the internet. Our personal and professional lives would never be the same.
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From creating entirely new jobs to allowing other occupations to move out of the office, the web has changed the way we work — even if “we” don’t work in core tech occupations that “make technology work for the rest of us,” as Pew Research Center puts it. In fact, Pew recently looked at the ways in which the internet changed life in the tech sector. Their round-up of the last 15 years in the industry shows how the internet has created a new world of work. Don’t believe us? Consider these facts:
2. Some tech occupations have grown due to the web. For example, there were just over 400,000 computer support specialists in 1997; today, there are over 525,000.
3. Others have shrunk. There were 208,680 computer operators in 1997, while today there are only 71,560.
4. With the internet, there would be no smartphones, laptop computers, or tablets — at least, not the way they’re used now. In fact, most of the tools we use to work at home or on the road would be nonexistent.
5. 30 million people now work at home at least once a week, in part because the internet makes it possible to do many jobs from anywhere there’s an internet connection.
6. 3 million Americans work at home every day; more than half say they’re happier working at home.
7. By 2012, nearly 9.9 million Americans were self-employed, according to Open Forum. The internet makes self-employment easier in a number of ways, from improving the ease of client communication to providing inexpensive marketing opportunities for entrepreneurs.
8. It’s now easier than ever to put your foot in your mouth, professionally speaking. In the olden days, you had to misspeak in person, or get a bad promotional idea past a marketing department. Now, all it takes is one thoughtless tweet to prove that not all publicity is good publicity.
9. The internet has cheapened some labor (journalism, for example), while creating whole new occupations like social media marketing, which reach far beyond the core tech disciplines mentioned earlier.
10. Wasting time at work has never been easier, but new studies show that our usual ways of goofing off online — looking at cute animal pictures, watching funny videos, even playing games — might actually boost our productivity. In any case, it’s a lot more fun than hanging around the actual water cooler, talking over the latest trash TV. (Which is also easier to view than ever before — but not recommended during working hours.)
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