The World Wide Web Turns Thirty!

Mar 20, 2019 By Saumya V, Writer Intern
sverma's picture

The web has become an important part of our lives. Not a day goes by when we are not looking up information for a school project or watching a video for fun.

The World Wide Web celebrated its 30th anniversary on March 12. You may have noticed its shortened form, “www.,” in the URLs of many websites. What many people don’t know is that the 'web' was initially an attempt to improve communication between thousands of scientists in Switzerland!

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a British engineer, invented the World Wide Web that made information more instantaneous and accessible.     

WWW Comes To Life

Tim Berners-Lee was a 34-year-old British physicist working as a software engineer at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland when he created the World Wide Web.

When people at CERN needed to access information from a peer, they had to go to a different computer. Berners-Lee thought information should be accessible from different computers. He wanted to develop a system for sharing information in an efficient and easy manner. 

In March 1989, he proposed the idea to his boss who was not very impressed. Despite the discouragement, Berners-Lee worked to implement his proposal.

He created a system where information across the web is shared using hypertext. Hypertext documents have hyperlinks that link the user to other documents related to the information they see. This helps the user access information more efficiently since they do not have to travel to another computer to view information. 

Berners-Lee created concepts such as Hypertext Transfer protocol (HTTP) to allow computers to talk to each other and Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) to create the pages. In December 1990, the World Wide Web was demonstrated and in 1991, the WWW project and source code were released to the world.

Global Impact

The World Wide Web has improved the lives of people across the world allowing them to access information and communicate easily.

On the 30th anniversary of the birth of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee shared his thoughts on the evolution of the World Wide Web. He highlighted that while the web has its benefits, there have been many challenges as well. 

The web is being misused to commit crimes online, hack into secure websites, and bully and harass others. Over the years, there have been laws established to prevent this. The web has also changed the way people communicate. When people talk to each other online, they are less likely to be considerate than if they were to say something to in person. This has led to the polarization of our society and aggressive behavior. 

Additionally, people are using the web for their own profit. Advertisements on websites provide the website owner with money which often affects the quality of the information. Website owners can also spread fake news to gain the interest of more readers. Cheating the community with misleading information contradicts the reason why the web was created.

Bernes-Lee felt that after a good 15 years, his vision for the World Wide Web has gone off track. Maybe it is time to develop a "Contract for the Web" to start moving things back in the right direction. 

Sources: Fortune, webfoundation.org, history.com, thedigitial.com