The world wide web celebrates its 30th birthday today, since its been exactly three decades that British scientist Tim Berners-Lee unleashed his invention of an “online information management system that could be accessed by anyone, anywhere in the world, at any given time” on March 12, 1989.
Berners-Lee considered calling his system ‘The Information Mine’ but figured that didn’t have a good enough ring to it. Fast forward to 2019 and the World Wide Web, as it was ultimately christened and is still known, celebrates its (very) public 30th birthday. And it’s something well worth celebrating.
Three decades of online social networking, individual blogging, independent fundraising, addictive shopping, Instagram bragging, international gaming, Uber-booking, and Wiki-leaking. Of silly kittens-falling-in-love-with-elephants videos, flash-in-the-pan YouTube sensations, digital matchmaking, Hightail file-sharing, selfie infatuations, and virtual bullying. Not to mention the endless abyss of porn available at our grubby fingertips.
Without the World Wide Web, we wouldn’t be able to sum up the day’s news in 280 characters or less. We wouldn’t have the privilege of keeping in touch with old friends whom we actually couldn’t be bothered sharing pleasantries with face-to-face. And we certainly wouldn’t be able to instantly find the answer to the question, “What krap has Kim been up to today?”
Indeed, the web is so smart, it’ll fix the ‘k’ in krap and replace it with a ‘c’, along with the countless other typos keyed in, and it’ll know exactly which Kim we’re talking about. Just try typing that question into Google now.
Without the information superhighway (as it was once affectionately referred to) we’d be void of all the useful information that makes us, er, smarter. And all the useless information that makes us think “we’re smarter that that”. We’d have no idea if the trains were running on time until we’d heard some codger tell us two hours too late on the morning ‘news’. We wouldn’t get to hear snippets of the latest music releases before committing to buy them. And, yes, we wouldn’t be able to illegally download the occasional bootleg.
The World Wide Web offers us mini doses of enlightenment every second of every day. Without it, it’d be like living in the dark ages.
On a more profound note, it has opened the floodgates of democracy, allowing us to have our say on virtually any topic or subject, gradually chipping away at centuries-old ideological and social-behavioural constructs (ie: not always the right ways to think and behave).
“The web is an artificial creation, as are our laws and our constitutions. We can choose how they work, or we can make new ones. It’s our choice.”
To this day, Berners-Lee is optimistic about a medium that allows for “free and uncensored” commentary, and has expressed his concern that the democracy of the web might soon be a thing of the past. He said in an ‘Ask Me Anything’ session on Reddit.com (dubbed “the front page of the Internet”), “I’m concerned and excited about the web’s future. I think some monitoring of the net by government agencies is going to be needed to fight crime [but] we need to invent a new system of checks and balances with unprecedented power to be able to investigate and hold the agencies which do it accountable to the public.”
Continues the man of many wise words, “The web is an artificial creation, as are our laws and our constitutions. We can choose how they work, or we can make new ones. It’s our choice.”
On a lighter note, my darling Mum only recently signed up to Facebook. That she occasionally refers to it as ‘MySpacebook’ pretty much sums up all the great things about the internet. It helps get our message across even when that message contains a kooky error; it allows for correction by more ‘enlightened’ parties; it leads to consistent and enjoyable communication (so long as you turn a blind eye to online trolling); and, even with all its linguistic blunders and information overload, it’s as entertaining as all hell.
So, Happy Birthday to you, World Wide Web. I’ll save on not buying you a Hallmark card and simply sent you a few emojis instead. 😎💋🎁🍹🍰