World Wide Web marks 30 years

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Acknowledging 30 years of World Wide Web, Berners-Lee on Monday wrote a post on his official website revisiting his ideas about web and what is next. Tim Berners-Lee has spoken at the 30th anniversary of the web at CERN, the physics research centre outside Geneva, where he invented the web that changed humanity.

While, as Berners-Lee notes, no one person, corporation, or government is exclusively at fault for the web's current problems, resistance to what he and many others see as necessary systemic reforms has come from powerful companies and political actors.

He is due to publish his "contract for the web" - a code of ethics for internet use - in May this year, the "50-50 moment" when more than half the world's population are expected to be online.

While internet had been around since 1960s, it was www - a decentralised resource built on principles of universality, allowing easy accessibility of information to people connected with each other virtually as an online community - made it relevant in terms of usability.

Berners-Lee said that the web has created opportunity and made our lives easier, but many people feel afraid and unsure if the web is really a force for good. "We didn't think there were any rules for accessibility or design", says Will Francis, a technology and social media expert based out of London.

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"Look at the 50 per cent who are on the web, and it's not so pretty for them", he said.

Berners-Lee's proposal contained the basic concepts of the web, including ideas like HTML, URL, and HTTP, but it would be another couple of years before he could demonstrate his idea. Some trace the actual start of the web to 1990, when he released the first web browser. With the help of CERN, he opened the world wide web to the public.

Under the contract's sweeping, broad ambition, governments are supposed to make sure everyone can connect to the internet, to keep it available and to respect privacy. In addition, companies should respect privacy and develop technologies that aim to put people - and the "public good" - first. Berners-Lee brought the site online from a lab in the Swiss Alps in 1991.

On one issue, he's insistent: "Net neutrality - strong regulation", Berners-Lee said, hammering a fist on the table. The Internet is a network of connected computers. "It's about sitting with other participants and working out how to find the balance between leaving tech companies to do the right thing and regulating them, and between freedom of speech and hate speech". It is our journey, he said, from digital adolescence to a more mature, responsible and inclusive future.

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