Jayne Cravens, an authority on the subject, takes on ten myths about virtual volunteering. Among the myths: it's great for people who don't have time to be "physical" volunteers, it's impersonal, it's risky, it's something new. "Online volunteering has been going on probably has long as there has been an Internet (which itself is more than 30 years old). Tim Berners Lee, in an online appearance at the United Nations Volunteers' event at Un Open Day in Geneva in 2001, noted the role volunteers had played in his development of the World Wide Web -- people donating their time and experience to a cause they believed in, working together via the Internet." [Link]
FYI - the Internet cutover dates back to the "TCP/IP transition" on January 1, 1983. See notes by Cerf, Kahn, et al., the people who did the work: http://www.isoc.org/internet/history/brief.shtml
That establishes the Internet at just over 23 years, not "more than 30 years old". Prior to the transition, on ARPAnet it was a substantially different beast. The replacement of the clunkly old host tables with DNS happened a few years later, actually.
Some of us (wink, wink) were working on the precursor ARPANet sites and systems (TOPS-20 at Stanford, etc.) involved with that cutover at the time, and for years before :)
I guess that, in a practical point of view, the Internet as almost anyone knows it is less than 15 years old, when first web browser appeared back in 1993.
Thanks, Paco! After reading some of John Markoff's new book, I almost want to source it all the way back to Albert Hoffman's bike ride!