News & Blog

Adam Barnett, Healthtalkonline.org Technology Manager, 5th November 2013

Healthtalkonline.org: A History

For decades the year 2000 promised ‘the future’. There would be flying cars, space travel would be routine, furniture would be egg-shaped. The reality was somewhat different…

Healthtalkonline.org was born into a world (wide web), very different from its current status as the all-knowing oracle and communication medium you can fit in your pocket. Firstly, there were only a rather paltry 361 million Internet users in 2000. For perspective, that’s roughly only a third of current Facebook users. Facebook of course didn’t exist in the year 2000… neither did Twitter… or Wikipedia, and countless other giants of the web. Even Google still had its baby teeth.

Nokia PhoneIt’s easy to forget just how far the digital world has come in such a short space of time. 17.6% of global web traffic is now from mobile devices, when healthtalkonline.org started smart phones were non-existent and the leading phone of its day was this hi-tech beauty which featured the thrilling, and at the time rare, addition of a calculator.

Images provided the wow factor to websites and videos were very much a rarity (Youtube wouldn’t even be conceived of for another five years). Yet around a kitchen table in North Oxford, a plan was being hatched, a plan to use this fledgling medium of the web to host videos, and lots of them.

Founders Ann McPherson and Andrew Herxheimer had become frustrated by the lack of information on various health topics, with Ann famously saying ‘I realised that I wanted to know how other people had managed with breast cancer and I didn’t just want to hear the stories of people who had ridden across France and “battled” with their cancer, but just the ordinary people’

They decided that they would collect experiences from a range of people who had various health conditions and… here comes the daring bit… film them and put them online. In a world where the web is so intrinsic in all our lives and online video is abundant, this would seem like an obvious idea, but in 2000, it was ground breaking.

Originally snappily called DIPEx (Database of Individual Patient Experiences), the site launched in July 2001 (three months before the first IPod), with two sections, one on prostate cancer and one on high blood pressure. Here is the site in 2002…

DIPEx


































The next milestone in the digital life of healthtalkonline.org was in 2008 when the site was given a major facelift which made finding the ever expanding range of issues covered easier to find and navigate:








































And now here we are. Another iteration of the website is launched and with it comes new technology and an ever increasing range of ways you can view the website, including tablets and mobiles. We hope you like it.
 
P.S.
Keep your eyes peeled… over the next few months, there may even be another surprise addition to the site…
 
Adam Barnett
Technology manager
Follow me at @Adam_healthtalk
 

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