Change: 19 Key Essays on How the Internet Is Changing Our Lives, is the sixth issue of BBVA’s annual series devoted to explore the key issues of our time. This year, our chosen theme is the Internet, the single most powerful vector of change in recent history. In the words of Arthur C Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” The swiftness and reach of the changes wrought by the Internet indeed have a touch of magic about them.
As a tool available to a reasonably wide public, the Internet is only twenty years old, but it is already the fundamental catalyst of the broadest based and fastest technological revolution in history. It is the broadest based because over the past two decades its effects have touched upon practically every citizen in the world. And it is the fastest because its mass adoption is swifter than that of any earlier technology. To put this into perspective – it was only 70 years after the invention of the aeroplane that 100 million people travelled by air; it took 50 years after the invention of the telephone for 100 million people to use this form of communication. The 100-million user mark was achieved by PCs after 14 years. The Internet made 100 million users after just 7 years. The cycles of adoption of Internet-related technologies are even shorter – Facebook acquired 100 million users in 2 years. It is impossible today to imagine the world without the Internet: it enables us to do things which only a few years ago would be unthinkable, and impinges on every sphere of our lives.