'I struggled to see the internet's possibility, the global ability to marvel at lolcats' #web25

Throughout March, Marketing is celebrating 25 years since Tim Berners-Lee submitted his World Wide Web proposal. Mark Lund, managing partner of Now and former COI chief executive, remembers the 'oligarchic" pre-internet world.

Back in the 1980s, no one imagined the potential of the internet #lolcats #web25
Back in the 1980s, no one imagined the potential of the internet #lolcats #web25

I’m one of the people who can remember an analogue marketing world. Like much of the good old days, (think conscription, homophobia, public executions) the reality didn’t merit the roseate glow it gets.

That pre-internet world featured a stifling monopoly on commercial television, shops that were shut much of the time and medieval restrictions on any form of printed data – i.e. you either bought it or read it in a library. We didn’t know it, but that world was oligarchic, exclusive and anti-competitive.

The internet has changed almost everything that we read, see, send, share or work at.

Hard to see the #lolcats potential of the internet

Gazing with the 1996 edition of Russell Davies (then an advertising planner) at the first websites, I wish I could say I was filled with a wild surmise of the possibility. I wasn’t. 

The internet has empowered 3bn people to read, see and publish with a freedom that only princes and magnates enjoyed before

Russell, ever the visionary, saw the future. I saw a brochure on a flickering black and white screen. But it was difficult then to imagine the need for, let alone the supply of, unlimited connectivity, infinite media or the global ability to marvel at cats that can’t spell.

The thing that most excites me about the internet era is the democratisation of knowledge. The way it has started to level the playing fields of privilege that have sloped for centuries. The way it has disintermediated the slow and the complacent. The way it has made the world come closer.

And, most, of all the way it has empowered 3bn people to read, see and publish with a freedom that only princes and magnates enjoyed before.

For me it’s not that marketing is different because of the internet. Of course it is – wildly different. But it’s not because marketing is special – it’s that the world itself is so different. And better.

 

MKOweb25

Become a member of Campaign from just £45 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

1 Why creative people have lost their way

What better way to kick off Campaign's relaunch than with another think piece on the current failings of our industry, written by an embittered, pretentious creative who misses "the way things used to be"...

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).