The 21st birthday of the World Wide Web is on December 25, 2011. This ‘coming of age’ WWW birthday marks the maturity of the first generation that was born with the Web and has always known it as an ordinary tool of life.
This immeasurable gift to the world was created by Tim Berners-Lee (Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee) while working for a physics research center in Geneva, Switzerland. CERN, The European Organization for Nuclear Research, approved Berners-Lee’s request to work on a system which would facilitate collaboration among researchers via the Internet.
“I invented the Web just because I needed it, really, because it was so frustrating that it didn’t exist,” said Berners-Lee in a 2009 interview with the BBC.
In September, 1990, he began coding the WWW. The first link using Hyper-Text Markup Language (HTML) communication was made on December 25, 1990. It was the birth of the World Wide Web. And that Big Bang of creation has literally lit up the world, launching the opportunity for all of humanity to connect, to find information and to share information.
Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, has said, “If this were a traditional science, Berners-Lee would win a Nobel Prize. What he’s done is that significant.”
The WWW went through its puberty years with easy to find porn sites, malware, the birth of Google, SEO and SEM, the advent of e-commerce, the dot-com boom, bubble and bust.
The teenage Web was known as Web2.0. Its teenage years went social with MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and the like. It played games, downloaded the latest music and movies, and joined virtual communities.
As any teen loves to talk on the phone, Web access moved to mobile phones. This platform created a vehicle for anyone to reach the Web without a computer. It is a significant opportunity for the 75% of the world’s population who are not now connected to the Web. In a world with 7 billion people, there are over 4 billion cell phones.
The words ‘Internet’ and ‘Web’ are now used interchangeably, even by the Web’s inventor. The World Wide Web is the Internet. The same is about to happen to the words ‘Internet TV’ and ‘TV’, according to City University New York Associate Professor Jeff Jarvis: “Just as our kids don’t understand the difference between broadcast and cable, the line between TV and Internet TV is about to disappear.”
The Web began with freedom, says Tim Berners-Lee. “The Web took off in all its glory because it was a royalty-free infrastructure… When I invented the Web, I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission. Now, hundreds of millions of people are using it freely.” What began in freedom now has serious privacy issues.
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has said, “We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.”
The invention has somewhat turned into a Frankenstein for its inventor.
Interviewed by New York Times reporter, Steve Lohr, at a 2009 technology symposium at the Embassy of Finland in Washington, Berners-Lee said:
“I have worries about the Web, about the Internet, about any one, large party getting to control it. Because if you can control the Internet, if you can control the Web, if you can control what somebody sees, make it much easier to get into the website of one political party rather than another one, make it difficult for them to look at sites which are the wrong side from your point of view, then that’s a very, very powerful tool.
“Also, if you can spy on everything that I do, if you can spy on the clicks I make as I browse through the Web and what comes back, you know a lot more about me than if you had a camera set up permanently in my living room. It’s very boring in my living room. But, when you see what I am anxious about, what I am querying for on the Web, and you know the types of cancer that people I know are suffering from, you might incorrectly conclude that I am suffering from that cancer and someone might be very tempted to up my insurance premiums.”
The governments of free countries are also concerned about vulnerability on the World Wide Web.
In late 2007, the United States launched the U.S. Air Force Cyber Command (AFCYBER). At the inaugural ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, Maj. Gen. William T. Lord announced, “In light of the looming threat to U.S. cyberspace, the 2006 National Military Strategy for Cyber Operations recognized cyberspace as a war- fighting domain… Mastery of cyberspace is essential to America’s national security.”
To the Next WWW Birthday
The Web has changed the lives of those connected to it and has opened indescribable vistas.
The World Wide Web has been lauded as ‘the biggest thing since the invention of writing.’ Now at 21 years of age, with 25% of the world’s population online, the WWW enters its next phase of life.
Just as no one can predict the future of the new college graduate, no one can predict the future of the Web.
One thing that can be said is that the future of the World Wide Web will astound us.
The world thanks you, Tim Berners-Lee, for the great gift you gave to the world on December 25, 1990. To your invention, the WWW, may it be blessed: May you grow, may you endure and may you bring peace on earth and goodwill toward mankind.
Happy Birth Day WWW! – and to many more.
Writer Fox is a Web content writer who has posted a free, online database of over 100 Quotes about the Internet, documenting Internet history, famous Internet quotes, and quotes about Internet websites.