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Internet time was a common catchphrase that originated during the late-1990s Internet boom. In this period, people who worked with the Internet had come to believe that "everything moved faster on the 'net", because the Internet made the dissemination of information far easier and cheaper. In layman’s terms, “Internet Time” involves efficiencies inherent to digital transactions that are produced by the virtual reality of one product, one product type, or one service provided to consumers from one virtual cash register residing on one server. The amount of time required to conduct simultaneous transactions is reduced to irrelevance, as everything is occurring at one compressed—albeit virtual—location.
Fast-moving developments were therefore said to run "on Internet time." For example:
- Companies released new (usually unstable and buggy) revisions of their software as free downloads, counting on feedback from customers to provide quality assurance. This development strategy, called "release early, release often", was perhaps epitomized in the development of the Netscape Navigator Web browser. The resulting pressure to release new features quickly and grab "mindshare" before one's competitors had disastrous effects on software quality, but resulted in an unprecedented rapid pace of innovation.
- A meme could travel the world, in the form of forwarded email, in a week or frequently less. Early instances of such memes included the infamous make money fast spam.
- Worms, viruses, and other malware could infect large portions of the Internet in a matter of days or hours, crippling systems worldwide with speed that was shocking to system administrators accustomed to a less networked era.
The meaning (and historical origin) of the phrase "Internet time" strongly parallels that of "New York minute".
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