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Poll: Google the best of the Web

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QUICKVOTE

Which of the following is the most significant in the World Wide Web's history?
WiFi hotspots
Webcams and photo sharing
Skype
Live 8 on AOL
Napster shuts down
Monica Lewinsky scandal
9/11, and the rise of citizen journalism
Dotcom boom/bust
Hotmail
Google
or View Results

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Internet
Technology (general)

(CNN) -- The search engine Google is the most significant development in the 15-year history of the World Wide Web, according to a poll of CNN.com users.

Nearly 18,000 CNN.com users voted in the three-week online survey, part of Spark's look at the Web's defining moments since Tim Berners-Lee launched the multimedia branch of the Internet in 1990. (Full story)

As part of the special, CNN.com ran a list of the top 10 defining moments during this time, and asked viewers whether they agreed with the list.

Forty one percent -- or 7,198 -- agreed that the advent of Google had the biggest impact on the World Wide Web.

Founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google has redefined search by inventing a new advertising model and created a vast business empire.

The survey provoked several viewers to write and express their opinions about the chosen list of top moments, and their views on the Web.

"Beside Google's ability to process search requests in a natural language-like manner, I found its feature to search within search results fantastic. The feature last mentioned was something that existed in the search engine Infoseek in the days before Google was born," wrote Felix Violenes. (Read more e-mails)

Spark placed the development of free e-mail service Hotmail at No. 2 on the list, but online users disagreed, placing it sixth with 1,000 votes.

Instead, voters chose the boom and bust of the dotcom bubble, when trillions of dollars were made and lost between 1995 and 2001, with 19 percent (3,420 votes) selecting the moment as the most significant in the Web's history.

The event that attracted the least number of votes was AOL's Live 8 broadcast in July 2005 when five million people watched the poverty awareness concerts online, setting a new Web record.

Just 92 people voted the event as the Web's defining moment. Spark placed it seventh on its list.

Third on the poll was the rise of citizen journalism since Sept. 11, 2001, which set the Web alight with opinion and amateur video.

Other CNN.com users wrote to say they disagreed with the list.

"I'm sorry that you could not come up with a full 10 moments. Google is not a moment. Hotmail is not a moment," wrote Jonathan K. from Phoenix, Arizona.

Larry Romero argued that Spark's list should have included e-mail.

"If you wish to poll what people think are the life-changing events that were a direct result of the Internet, you have to include e-mail, Ebay, Amazon, etc," he said.

"Personally, I think e-mail changed our lives the most. I can't work without e-mail now. I take it with me when I travel and even when I leave the office."

Meanwhile, Steven Wilson wrote that Apple's iTunes Music store should have been on the poll because it had revolutionized how music is bought and sold.

"(It) now outsells most national retail music stores, and is one of the top 10 sellers of music. What other industry can say this about their online sales, or claim the market share that iTMS has? None! This is also directly related to the iPod, since music on the world's most popular portable music player ever has to be downloaded via the Internet. How this could have even been remotely overlooked is beyond me."

Others wrote to point out that the Internet had been around for a long time and that the Web was only a small part of its development.

Spark's special was based only on the Web's history, which has made the Net more accessible to the general public.

The Web is a powerful, liberating force that has brought people closer together, and shaped new businesses.

The results of the poll and ensuing responses via e-mail are proof of just how much the World Wide Web has impacted our day-to-day lives.

Spark's top 10 Web moments

These are Spark's picks as the top 10 moments in the World Wide Web's short but impressive life. Vote for the one you think is the most significant, or read what others say:

10. WiFi hotspots -- Wireless Internet connectivity appears in airports, hotels and even McDonald's.

9. Webcams and photo sharing -- Communication becomes visual, and inboxes fill with baby photos.

8. Skype -- Telephony turns upside down with free long-distance calls, Ebay snaps it up in September 2005 for $2.6 billion.

7. Live 8 on AOL -- Five million people watch poverty awareness concerts online in July 2005, setting a new Net record.

6. Napster goes offline -- Regulators close the pioneering music swap site in July 2001 and file-sharing goes offshore.

5. Lewinsky scandal -- Matt Drudge breaks the Clinton/Lewinsky sex scandal in 1998. The blog is born.

4. Tsunami and 9/11 -- Two tragic events set the Web alight with opinion and amateur video.

3. Boom and bust -- Trillions of dollars were made and lost as the dotcom bubble ballooned and burst between 1995 and 2001.

2. Hotmail -- Went from having zero users in 1995 to 30 million subscribers 30 months later. It now has 215 million users.

1. Google -- Redefined search. Invented a new advertising model and commands a vast business empire.

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