World Wide Web celebrates 30th anniversary


On this day in 1989, English software engineer Tim Berners-Lee submitted a proposal that detailed the creation of the World Wide Web.

He 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".

"Given how much the web has changed in the past 30 years, it would be defeatist and unimaginative to assume that the web as we know it can't be changed for the better in the next 30 years", said Berners-Lee. "We will have failed the web". At the Web@30 conference, hosted by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland on Tuesday, he shared his ideas for reforming the web on a global scale.

But Berners-Lee told the event that many people - including himself - believe the web has fallen short in many areas and created new, serious problems.

"It's our journey from digital adolescence to a more mature, responsible and inclusive future", he wrote.

English computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee 3rd left on the podium best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web attends an event at the CERN in Meyrin near Geneva Switzerland

"Today, 30 years on from my original proposal for an information management system, half the world is online", he said.

"Thank goodness it wasn't "Exciting but vague", Berners-Lee said.

Citing the Cambridge Analytica scandal as a turning point for the people's relationship with the web, he pointed to the biggest three dangers facing web users today - malicious activity, business models that reward clickbait, and unintended consequences such as aggression and angry discourse, but warned that tackling them would require all parties to act. He also could not foresee the proliferation of hacking, criminal behaviour and hatred now spread online.

"They are all stepping back, suddenly horrified after the Trump and Brexit elections, realising that this web thing that they thought was that cool is actually not necessarily serving humanity very well", he said.

On one issue, he's insistent: "Net neutrality - strong regulation", Berners-Lee said, hammering a fist on the table. Many experts peg the start of the internet to September 2, 1969, when a team of computer scientists at UCLA got two computers to send data to each other through a network for the first time.