Web Turns 20 And Looks Back To Ideals

The web (not the Internet–that’s a different thing) turned 20 years old today. Even though it’s not old enough to drink (in the States) it’s sure changed the life of everyone you know, including yourself. But did you know that it’s fundamentally changed since it’s creation? We don’t know what life would be without it. We can find everything we need and a lot we don’t. If it wasn’t for a few forward thinking founding Fathers it could have been owned by a major corporation.

CERNAt CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (better known now for particle accelerators and exploring the fundamental structure of the universe) they’re working to restore the original computer that Sir Tim Berners-Lee used to create the first web-server, a NeXT computer (image shown here). For those that watched the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic’s they saw Tim Berners-Lee on stage with his NeXT during the segment “Frankie and June Say ‘Thanks Tim.'” The dance and musical number, directed by Danny Boyle, told the love story of teens Frankie and June, who are only able to reconnect after a chance encounter through technology like smartphones and social networks.

Trivia: NeXT was started by Steve Job’s when he left Apple.

In 1993 Sir Tim convinced the management at CERN to publish a paper that made the web publicly available on a royalty-free basis. The ideal was that it was to be a free and open exchange of information. No one could own it and everyone could edit it. The goal was to provide a two-way communication medium where everyone could freely exchange information. Even though this exists today with opportunities such as Wikipedia, the Web is mostly dominated by large companies.

Twenty years ago, there were no URLs on TV spots, news breaking or politicians embarrassing themselves on websites.

Read a full piece on the ideals of the web at BBC News by @BBCPallab and a great tribute feature at CERN