Looking over the screengrabs of the internet on 9/11 was a stirring experience. It triggered memories of that day and made me a bit uncomfortable and simultaneously a bit curious. I noticed one thing in particular: I didn’t see any ads.
I hopped on over to some news sites to see if I was crazy or if news sites do, in fact, have ads on them now. And I found I was sane. You can check out BBC’s website, for instance, and see a quite sizable ad drawing attention away from the news stories. I realized then that it was entirely possible that the boundaries between news and advertising had not yet been eroded in 2001. Perhaps companies did not yet believe that people logging on to learn about the world would be interested in shopping. Perhaps the people running news outlets did not believe they should give people the opportunity to navigate away. Either way, this is a particularly noteworthy contrast between the internet in 2001 and the internet today.