Ten years ago, Silicon Valley was going through rapid changes, Enron was declaring bankruptcy and the world was reeling from horrific terrorist attacks on US soil. And as time has passed, we’ve seen exponential growth in many sectors and welcomed new ways of thinking about and doing ordinary things.
As LegalZoom celebrates its 10th anniversary, we look back at how technology has found its way into practically every aspect of our daily lives—and how our lives will never be the same.
We’re not just talking about Amazon.com or your favorite department store. Nearly all types of purchases—from software to travel arrangements to insurance—can be done in your pjs. E-commerce has soared and with it comes new opportunities for businesses.
It wasn’t too long ago that the process of paying a bill involved a payment stub, a personal check and a stamped envelope (and several days for the process to be completed and the check to be cleared). Today, most Americans use online banking and about half of those users also pay bills online, according to a recent Fiserv Inc. survey. One can also apply for a credit card or even a home loan online—something unheard of back in 2001.
There was a time when the day’s news was available “hot off the press” (literally) via a print publication. Not so much anymore. Over the past decade, content providers have scrambled to get online and distribute content more effectively. Remember when HTML consisted of Times New Roman text and flashing links? Immensely improved infrastructure has allowed media publishers to embrace the Internet and provide content in a myriad of new ways. Newspapers and magazines can connect content with RSS feeds, blogs, social networks, smartphones—you name it. And with the opportunity for everyone out there to have a voice on the Internet via a blog or personal site, new sources of content have flooded the scene—and found loyal followers.
Who would have thought that a mobile phone could allow one to take photos, stream movies, play games and have a personal GPS device on demand? No longer limited to landlines, the ubiquity of smartphones has given us the freedom to do whatever we want, whenever we want. Video chatting is a reality, as is responding to business emails while halfway around the world.
OK, so Google is a little more than ten years old. But the company’s most popular services have only risen to popularity over the last five to seven years. In addition to Google search, can you imagine a world without Gmail, Blogger or Picasa?
An online network of people talking about themselves doesn’t sound very titillating, but the idea has become one of the most significant developments of our time. Facebook, along with its predecessors like Friendster and Myspace, has redefined the way people connect with each other both on and offline. And with Twitter gaining immense popularity just over the last few years, it’s clear that this phenomenon is only getting bigger.
Personal tablets, like the Apple iPad, are changing the way we connect with content—and with each other. This growing market would have seemed like science fiction not too long ago, but now practically every big name in technology is introducing new mobile computing solutions that offer mobile connectivity and streaming content.
We don’t have flying cars just yet, but hybrids have made an impact on the marketplace. Ten years ago hybrid vehicles would have seemed like a bad business idea; nowadays, most big car manufacturers have introduced eco-friendly options to meet the growing consumer demand for such vehicles.
What was once pretty much impossible, simple and common legal matters can now be completed online. Creating last wills and living trusts, protecting intellectual property and even forming a business no longer require going through an expensive attorney’s office.
So what’s next? Mobile computing is a rising trend and will continue to grow. The popularity of social networking sites may spawn new sites and provide yet another way for people to connect with each other.
But no matter where we go from here, it’s clear that technology is in nearly every aspect of our lives and that we’ll be more connected with it in the future. As this happens, it’s worth noting that the human experience is changing right in front of our eyes.