The World Wide Web celebrates its 30th Birthday this March 12th, affording an opportunity to assess how it has changed in the past 30 years
By Lydia O’Kane
Every day millions of people use the World Wide Web to access information, digital photographs, music files, and videos, over the Internet. But 30 years ago the web, as we know it, was just a proposal.
On 12th March 1989 British Scientist Tim Berners Lee, who was working at Europe’s physics lab CERN, went to his boss with a pitch. The rest, as they say, is history and the World Wide Web was born.
In 1993 it went public and an explosion of interest ensued with companies, governments and people themselves designing their own websites and accessing material.
Even the Vatican was taking note. On March 30th 1997 the Holy See’s website Vatican.va went public with the webpage of Vatican Radio following sharp on its heels.
Pros and Cons
But despite the opportunities the World Wide Web has provided, there is growing concern about how it is being misused. That unease has come not least from its inventor Sir Tim Berners Lee.
Speaking at CERN to mark this resource that revolutionized the world, he criticized the “commodification of personal data” and stressed the importance of getting more people online.
“There’s only two things to do, one is get the other half (of the world) online as quickly as possible…and the other is for the people who are online…think about other aspects; privacy; think about owning control of your own data.”
Looking to the future
So as the World Wide Web marks its 30th Birthday what does the future hold?
For Berners Lee, it’s building a ‘Contract for the Web’ whereby clear norms, laws and standards are established that underpin it. The inventor also remains optimistic about its long term prospects saying, “If we give up on building a better web now, then the web will not have failed us. We will have failed the web.”