30 Years of the World Wide Web

| Technology

30 Years of the World Wide Web


March 12th, 1989. 30 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee proposed the idea of what would turn out to be the World Wide Web, which is now a network of 5 billion people!

It all began with Tim Berners-Lee trying to find a new way for scientists to keep track of their large projects and a way for them to easily share data from experiments. This connected system for sharing information then opened up to everyone turning it into the World Wide Web, a universal and free information space which revolutionised how we communicate.

Of course, the world already had a connected network of computers which had been growing for decades allowing people to send emails and share files, etc but it wasn’t until the World Wide Web came along that the internet came to the masses.

Web browsers, webpages and hyperlinks made it easy to find information as it was all open sourced meaning anyone could create and build on Tim Berners-Lee’s platform for free.

Over the last 30 years the internet has grown into a mass of information, which is home to over 1.8 billion websites!

However, Tim Berners-Lee published a letter about the 30th anniversary, where he states -

“While the web has created opportunity, given marginalised groups a voice, and made our daily lives easier, it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier to commit”

He talks about “three sources of dysfunction” responsible for the current state of the web today and what we must do to build a better web.

These dysfunction sources are:

1) “Deliberate, malicious intent” like hacking and criminal behaviour.

2) “System design that creates perverse incentives” where websites use clickbait adverts and misinformation to generate money.

3) “Unintended negative consequences” where he talks about the way people negatively interact with the web, like polarising conversations around sensitive topics.

However, Berners-Lee believes it’s not too late for the web, if we act fast -

"The fight for the web is one of the most important causes of our time. Today, half of the world is online. It is more urgent than ever to ensure the other half are not left behind offline, and that everyone contributes to a web that drives equality, opportunity and creativity”.

Check out the letter to see how he proposes that “we can get the web we want”.

Luke Stanley