Friday, 19 December 2008

Looking back: VICNET and proto Web 2.0

The end of the year is also a good time to look back as well as forward. Over the last 2 years there has been a lot written about Web 2.0, Learning 2.0, and Library 2.0; but there are examples of Web / Library 2.0 activities and software that go back much further, like back 14 years. So lets spend some time looking back.

VICNET began in 1994 and was officially launched in May 1995. In its time VICNET was Victoria's largest website. For example, by late 1999 VICNET web servers received 10 million hits a month. VICNET's success was driven in part by the fact that they hosted nearly 2,000 websites for Victoria's community groups. So with all this free online social networking, VICNET was like mySpace or Facebook years and years before mySpace or Facebook became household brands. At the time this was not called Web 2.0 or Library 2.0 because these terms had not been invented. As a aside, there is a story behind why the very successful VICNET logo was killed off, but this blog is probably not the appropriate forum for going over this sad and sorry tale. Needless to say, the person who was in charge of marketing for the State Library of Victoria at the time is no longer in that position.

But even way back then, the statistics showed the power of online engagement and proto Web 2.0 services. For example, look at the following web statistics:

State Library of Victoria Online visits versus VICNET Community Portal visits

Financial YearState LibraryVICNET
2006 – 2007New measures implementedNew measures implemented
2005 – 20062,836,31531,722,019
2004 – 20052,006,32321,732,747
2003 – 20042,000,75922,000,000
2002 – 20031,766,97019,897,157
2001 – 20021,204,96216,100,241

Source: State Library of Victoria Annual Reports,

VICNET was (and is) more than just web hosting, but this look back into the past shows that with vision and determination libraries can indeed be innovative and ahead of the pack. The question is - what innovative and strategic things should we be doing today and tomorrow.

1 comment:

Richard Hayward said...

Hi David, I'm visiting to see if you have any Information Online updates yet. I'm very interested in this post - and the old logo brings back some memories. There is a large Vicnet sign featuring the original version of this logo located behind my desk at the moment. The version you posted is Vicnet logo version 2, which was a fuller, more rounded version. The web site figures reported here relate to the entire community hosting program, so they included all the community pages. Cheers, Richard.