World Wide Web turns 30 years old

Friday, 15 Mar, 2019

Berners-Lee reminisced about how he was really out to get disparate computer systems to talk to one another, and resolve the "burning frustration" over a "lack of interoperability" of documentation from disparate computing systems used at CERN in the late 1980s.

On the 30th anniversary of the birth of the World Wide Web, Google is celebrating it with a doodle that is reminder of how things were like in its early years.

THIRTY YEARS AGO today, the world changed forever. The proposal was initially marked "Vague but exciting" by Berners-Lee's boss Mike Sendall, who later allowed Berners-Lee to turn the proposal into a working model. By the end of 1990, he had implemented key components, namely html, http and URL, and created the first Web server, browser and editor.

In 1989 Berners-Lee was working at Cern, the physics research facility near Geneva.

In 1991 people outside Cern began to use this new web community and, when Cern agreed to make the underlying code available on a royalty-free basis forever in 1993, it sparked an explosion that would eventually lead to the web we know today.

Berners-Lee doesn't like everything he sees - all the trolls and harassment, spread of misinformation - referring to these variables as ills of its "digital adolescence".

Berners-Lee also expressed delight that the web is now the cornerstone for communication and education, giving marginalised groups a voice and making daily lives easier.

The unintended negative consequences of benevolent design, such as the outraged and polarized tone and quality of online discourse. Where did it all go so wrong? "Well, looking back, all kinds of things have gone wrong since".

Hate speech, privacy issues, propaganda, hacking.

Sir Tim - he was knighted in 2004 for services to the global development of the internet - was greatly troubled by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the now-defunct company harvested the data of 87 million Facebook users.

"The web has become a public square, a library, a doctor's office, a shop, a school, a design studio, an office, a cinema, a bank, and so much more", Berners-Lee wrote in an open letter.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, plans to host Berners-Lee and other web aficionados on Tuesday.

"The dream behind the Web is of a common information space in which we communicate by sharing information", he wrote.

He called on governments to make sure the web remains "competitive" through regulation, and to ensure companies don't prioritise short-term profits over the long-term good.

He hopes governments will keep web advocates on board that will "stand up to protect an open web" and that companies will keep privacy and security in mind when designing their platforms and products.

"The fight for the web is one of the most important causes of our time".