Technology moves so fast that history, too often, gets buried in the digital dustbin. Was it just last month that Facebook celebrated its 6th birthday? Just a few days ago that Twitter marked its 10 billionth tweet?
But March 15, ladies and gents, is too special a day to let us pass by. March 15, as it happens, is the 25th birthday of the revolutionary dot.com. Yep, the big 2-5. Imagine business, technology and innovation without .com. . . news, media and government without it. . . YouTube.com and Facebook.com and Twitter.com without those three tiny fragments. Sure, dot.com is not the only online destination, now joined by the rise of URLs that include the likes of .me, .ly and .xxx. Still, its long-lasting impact is hard too overstate. As the celebratory site www.25yearsof.com points out: "1985's most lasting contribution turned out to be three letters and a punctuation mark."
There are some 84 million .com domains today -- 11.9 million are business and e-commerce sites, 4.3 million are entertainment-oriented, 3.1 million are finance-related and 1.8 million are all about sports. Business. Entertainment. Sports. Clearly, dot.com is really about dot.life in general -- and how our lives have changed because of it. According to a survey conducted by Zogby International, to be released by VeriSign, the operator of .com, in time for today's milestone, 81 percent of Americans visit 5 or more .com sites a day. And many visit more than that.
The growth of .com, it must be noted, did not come quickly. Only five companies followed the footsteps of the Cambridge-based computer manufacturer Symbolics, Inc. when it registered the first .com on March 15, 1985. By the late 1980s, about 100 .coms existed, which included now tech powerhouses IBM, Intel, AT&T and Cisco. It wasn't until 12 years later, in 1997, a year after President Clinton signed the landmark 1996 Telecommunications Act, that .com names passed the 1 million mark.
And it's been growing since. So much so, in fact, that back in 1995, VeriSign handled 18 billion queries. These days, VeriSign handles that same amount of queries in 8 hours.
This is an especially big week for the Internet -- where it was just 25 years ago; where it stands now, in our social media-driven world; and where it will be and where it needs to be in future.
Marking dot.com's silver anniversary, VeriSign will host a small, exclusive, day-long policy forum in Washington, D.C. tomorrow, headlined by President Clinton. The dot.com president will deliver a keynote speech on how the Internet has ushered the era of global connectedness -- what we here at HuffPost Tech call the birth of online global citizenship. On the same day, Julius Genachowski, the blog-friendly chairman of the Federal Communication Commission, will release its ambitious and anxiously awaited National Broadband Plan, a comprehensive road-map for bringing fast, affordable high speed Internet access to all Americans. It's high-time we think of our Internet infrastructure in the same way we thought of the Interstate highways in the last century. And on Thursday, the all-important and underrated Sunlight Foundation, which has championed online transparency in government, will launch a national, non-partisan campaign for real-time transparent government.
That's a movement everyone can and will get behind -- as we sit at home and at work, perhaps just on our cell phones, browsing our dot.coms.
Follow Jose Antonio Vargas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joseiswriting