Today Show Describes the Internet in 1994 - Sounds Like a Twitter Description


Earlier this morning, Sabina sent this link to me as a "funny morning link" from It's a clip from The Today Show circa 1994, with the hosts asking each other "What is the Internet?" At that time, many of us were exploring chat rooms and pondering the crazy horror of never leaving the house again just in case ordering groceries online became a possibility.

What struck me about this clip was the helpless, yet fascinated attempts Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric made at trying to define the Internet, and what the @ symbol means (when used in what is now known as an email address). A producer from behind the camera describes the Internet as a way to communicate, a giant bulletin board. Bryant goes on to explain how the Internet helped people communicate during a recent 1994 CA earthquake, especially after the phone lines went dead.

Sound familiar? Yes. During almost every uprising or revolution that takes place now days, people communicate and coordinate over the Internet, via Twitter. One of the early examples was protests in Iraq in 2009 after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won re-election over opponent Mir Hossein Moussavi, and the people thought the election was rigged.

The Today Show's attempts to understand the Internet and explain it reminded me of my first Twitter for Beginners Class, where business owners came together to learn what Twitter was and how they could use it. At that time, their number one question was: "What is the @ and what is the #"?" Not only that, but when I defined how those symbols were used, a mini revolt happened in the class because half of the class wanted to know technical how-to's, and the other couldn't get past the philosophical "Why" and needed to understand the purpose first.
Take a listen to this clip of the definition of the Internet, and see if you don't think it nearly identical to how people describe Twitter today.

Here is explaining Twitter in plain English: