The Web Is 30. Here's What Its Inventor Thinks

English computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web delivers a speech during an event at the CERN in Meyrin near Geneva Switzerland

Where were you 30 years ago today? "Not to be confused with the internet, which had been evolving since the 1960s, the World Wide Web is an online application built upon innovations like HTML language, URL "addresses", and hypertext transfer protocol, or HTTP", said Google in a blog post.

In an open letter to mark the occasion, Mr Berners-Lee made a fairly damaging assessment of his creation, 30 years on, warning: "I'm very concerned about nastiness and misinformation spreading".

Berners-Lee's idea called for managing and monitoring research. Berners-Lee wasn't looking to transform modern life when he invented the World Wide Web; he had just gotten exhausted of having to switch computers whenever he needed to access information that wasn't on his main work computer.

"But 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", Berners-Lee said in a letter on Monday, a day before the celebration of 30 years of the World Wide Web.

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
How to save the Internet

"The dream behind the Web is of a common information space in which we communicate by sharing information", he wrote. Berners-Lee worked there in the late 1980s, and had been determined to help bridge a communications and documentation gap among different computer platforms. As The Associated Press reports, "Berners-Lee has since become a sort of father figure for the internet community, been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, and named as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century by Time magazine".

"Deliberate, malicious intent, system design that creates perverse incentives and unintended negative consequences had contributed in creating a dysfunction on the web".

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.

"The Contract for the Web is about sitting down in working groups with other people who signed up, and to say, 'Ok, let's work out what this really means, '" Berners-Lee said. However, he thinks that doesn't mean things can't change, and it definitely doesn't mean we should all just give up on the web because of where it is today.

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