The Web emerged as an antidote to the rapidly increasing quantity of accumulated knowledge in the 20th century, which has been caused mainly by scientific progress and digitization technology. Human memory and processing power are extended through the storage and interconnection of online content. The Web shortened the time, which is necessary for an innovation to become mainstream technology. It took 38 years for telephone technology to reach the threshold of 50 million users, while television needed 13 years, Internet 4 years, iPod 3 years and Facebook just 2 years. The Web become the new “Promised Land” for quick fortunes and unlimited business growth in the late 1990s because of browsers and search engines that enabled user-friendly navigation. Greed and excessive enthusiasm drove economy in 2001 to a noisy burst of the 5 trillion dollars dot-com bubble.
In mid-00s the Web enabled mass participation and reborn from the ashes of the dot-com bubble. After this hard lesson, the new business models were updated to include advertising revenue from Web navigation and provision of value added services. At this moment, the Web economy is bigger and more robust with new services ranging from search to social networking, virtual entertainment and giant multi-stores. In the demand side, most of the population in the western world is involved in the Web economy. While Silicon Valley is currently focused on the Initial Public Offerings of the leading social networks, President Sarkozy introduces the e-G8 summit and includes the Web in the agenda of the traditional G8 summit.
The Web strengthens the development and democratization processes by empowering people in life-critical functions and enabling participation and transparency.
The Web transformed into the battlefield of a “winner-take-all” fight among titanic firms affecting business and consumer choice in the global economy spectrum. Public and personal infospheres and their interplay are re-invented under new privacy, trust and security laws, ethics and practices. In this new Web ecosystem, researchers and governments are called to create new policy mixtures that will balance market power with personal and social development.