The Washington Post has a nice analysis of the changes in Top 20 sites over the last two decades
“The first year here is 1996, when the web was … young. Several of the top 20 sites were college sites, thanks to colleges having invested early in the internet. AOL and Yahoo were there too, as they have been ever since. Mostly, however, the list is garbage nonsense like “GNN” and “Teleport,” which we don’t even know what they are. Notice the ascent of Excite and CNET. They’ll be interesting in the next part of the graph.”
Technically the Deep Web refers to the collection of all the websites and databases that search engines like Google don't or can't index, which in terms of the sheer volume of information is many times larger than the Web as we know it. But more loosely, the Deep Web is a specific branch of the Internet that's distinguished by that increasingly rare commodity: complete anonymity. Nothing you do on the Deep Web can be associated with your real-world identity, unless you choose it to be. Most people never see it, though the software you need to access it is free and takes less than three minutes to download and install. If there's a part of the grid that can be considered off the grid, it's the Deep Web.
The Deep Web has plenty of valid reasons for existing. It's a vital tool for intelligence agents, law enforcement, political dissidents and anybody who needs or wants to conduct their online affairs in private--which is, increasingly, everybody. According to a survey published in September by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 86% of Internet users have attempted to delete or conceal their digital history, and 55% have tried to avoid being observed online by specific parties like their employers or the government.
“Social Security has gone digital. The federal retirement program, which last year stopped mailing out estimated benefit statements to everyone who has paid into the system, launched an Internet tool this month that can be used to view several aspects of your personal status.”
Recognizing how squeamish people may be about the "security" of a site about Social Security data, it allows for a cell phone alert feature when your account is being accessed and in the set up process, the validation questions reflect your personal history from the Experian credit database.
“Holding down the "home" button on the new iPhone 4S, available in the U.S. starting on October 14, summons a "personal assistant" known as Siri that can understand commands given in English, French, or German. It responds in a conversational style in both text and synthesized speech.”
“Winarsky says Siri's speech-based interface is not its most impressive feature. "Recognizing speech has become a commodity. It is finding the intent in what you said and matching that with the Web services available that cost hundreds of millions in research." Winarsky and colleagues at SRI made their technology capable of handling ambiguity and variability in statements, enabling Siri to deal with casual commands so that users don't have to use carefully scripted phrasing, he says.”