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The Internet Machine The evolution of the Internet has dramatically altered the way we work and buy.

By Amy Cosper

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Amy CosperJust a couple of decades ago, the Internet was a nascent platform used primarily to serve up the AOL joke of the week each Monday morning. Across America, anxious onlookers would wait and watch as their dial-up modems chugged and bleeped and spurted until a two-line, not-so-funny joke crawled its way across the screen. Needless to say, we've come a long way: The Internet has become an indispensable part of business, and online humor is now much funnier.

Just how dramatic is the evolution of the Internet? It has radically altered the way we communicate, innovate, create, express, buy, sell, invest, research, date­--just about every human behavior and activity has an online counterpart.

We now have instant access to knowledge, intelligence and transactions. Never in history has consumers and brands commingled as closely as they do now. Brands are built, destroyed, altered and restored online. The democratization of branding is both engaging and terrifying.

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