Rich Galen

I found one - I don't remember what it was - and I clicked on the link. One line at a time, Mosaic and the World Wide Web worked their magic and a painting by a modern master slowly appeared on my screen.

When it finished I saw where it was located: The Dallas Museum of Art.

At that moment I understood that the World Wide Web meant distance - distance between two points across the surface of the Earth - had lost its meaning.

My computer had sent a signal from Plano, Texas to Geneva, Switzerland; on to Dallas (about 20 miles from where I was sitting) back to Geneva, ending in Plano.

Where that painting was physically located was immaterial. It could have been in St. Petersburg, Russia or on the wall of the conference room down the hall.

This, I knew, was big.

When I started teaching people how to use computers they would get very nervous about not understanding how computers worked. I always ran the same riff:

How many people own cars? Almost every hand would go up.

How many of those cars have automatic transmissions? Almost all the hands would stay up.

Who understands how your car knows when to shift from first to second gear? No hand remained.

Computers are the same thing. They know how they work; you don't have to.

As you sit at your desk, or check your email, or browse through your Twitter feeds, or sneak a peek at YouTube remember that it all started 20 years ago today.

The day distance disappeared.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at