Where would we be now had Tim Berners-Lee not invented the World Wide Web? It is inconceivable to many of us that we would not be able to access information and share it at the click of a button. Yesterday, 12th March was the 30th anniversary and in just three decades huge progress has been made, but with that progress a whole host of unforeseeable problems have arisen as well.
Nowadays, the web is a huge part of all our lives and Sir Tim is rightly proud of his invention. It was after he had graduated from Oxford University and had become a software engineer at CERN, the large particle physics laboratory near Geneva, that he noticed that scientists there were having difficulty sharing information.
‘In those days, there was different information on different computers, but you had to log on to different computers to get at it. Also, sometimes you had to learn a different program on each computer. Often it was just easier to go and ask people when they were having coffee,’ said Sir Tim in a World Wide Web Foundation open letter of which he is a Director.
In the open letter to mark the anniversary, Sir Tim called for global efforts to tackle state-sponsored hacking, criminal behaviour and abusive language on the internet.
“While the web has created opportunity, given marginalized 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 added, going on to identify three major “sources of dysfunction” affecting the web: deliberate malicious intent, system design and unintended negative consequences of benevolent design.
With only half the world on the WWW, Sir Tim urged governments, companies and citizens to “ensure the other half (of the world) are not left behind offline, and that everyone contributes to a web that drives equality, opportunity and creativity.”
However Sir Tim was optimistic about the future of the web, which he said needs to be helped by coming together as, “a global web community”.
“The web is for everyone and collectively we hold the power to change it. It won’t be easy. But if we dream a little and work a lot, we can get the web we want.”
Watch BC Training founder and CEO Brenda Cuby talking to GBC News about the WWW anniversary and explaining the difference between the World Wide Web and the internet.