Back in March of 1989, Tim Berners-Lee, part of CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), presented a proposal for a “Mesh” of nonlinear text systems, known as hypertext, and how it could help prevent the loss of information and make it available across the CERN organization. It wasn’t until a year later when he was actually writing the “Mesh” code that he changed the name of it to the “World Wide Web.” Four years later, seeing the larger benefits, CERN made the technology available to the public for free.
Technically, the Internet already existed at that time. You could send people email, but you didn’t have websites. There was no “www.,” “http//:” or “.html,” the HyperText Markup Language that makes up the webpage you are viewing right now and the other webpages you look at. Mr. Berners-Lee created the first website in 1992 on a server that is now on display in London’s Science Museum. It is estimated that there are at least a trillion web pages in existence today. In the quarter century of the web’s existence, we’ve seen it expand the globalization of our economy and dramatically change how we get information, communicate with each other, shop for ourselves, and socialize with friends and relatives. Furthermore, nearly 90% of American adults and about 40% of all people in the world now use the Internet.
What is really interesting is Mr. Berners-Lee’s perspective on not what the past 25 years has brought us, but what the next 25 years will bring us. I’ll leave you with some of his thoughts from an open letter posted on Google:
“So today is a day to celebrate. But it’s also an occasion to think, discuss—and do. Key decisions on the governance and future of the Internet are looming, and it’s vital for all of us to speak up for the web’s future. How can we ensure that the other 60 percent around the world who are not connected get online fast? How can we make sure that the web supports all languages and cultures, not just the dominant ones? How do we build consensus around open standards to link the coming Internet of Things? Will we allow others to package and restrict our online experience, or will we protect the magic of the open web and the power it gives us to say, discover, and create anything? How can we build systems of checks and balances to hold the groups that can spy on the net accountable to the public? These are some of my questions—what are yours?”
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