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Internet world marks 20th anniversary of birth of the Web

December 25, 2010 - SWITZERLAND

On Christmas Day 1990, with help from CERN computer scientist Robert Cailliau and others, Sir Timothy Berners-Lee published the first website. It was the first successful communication between a Web browser and server via the Internet. The Internet has evolved in the 20 years since, spawning new lifestyles, words and industries along the way. Some of the trends worry the English computer scientist.

On Christmas Day 1990, with help from CERN computer scientist Robert Cailliau and others, Sir Timothy Berners-Lee published the first website. It was the first successful communication between a Web browser and server via the Internet. Both has evolved in the 20 years since, spawning new lifestyles, words and industries along the way. Some of the trends worry the English computer scientist. ; He recently declared, in so many words, that important benefits of the Web will be lost unless net neutrality is preserved. The anniversary invites a look at the changes brought about by the Web and at Berners-Lee's concerns, voiced recently at a Nokia conference in London. The lifestyle changes include teleworking from home; around-the-clock and anywhere connectivity with work, family and friends; visiting those people on Facebook; Internet shopping; online voting; e-government and e-medicine; emailed and twittered communications; instant celebrity via YouTube; and instant information by Yahoo-ing and Googling. Then this the Web shorthand for tasks and processes. Http, www, SMS, FTP, SIMs are just a few of the hundreds or thousands of acronyms that need no translation for regular users of the Internet. The technology spawned by the Web has spawned products and services past counting. Berners-Lee is director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which oversees the Web's continued development. The issues that concern the scientist reside amid the plethora of Web bounty. Top of his list is the need to guard against a tiered web. "We must ensure the neutrality of the underlying network,'; Berners-Lee said in his keynote speech at the Nokia conference.'We need to have constant vigilance because net neutrality is something that everybody takes for granted.'; The worry is shared by others. In September, the Council of Europe presented a proposal for a global "internet treaty." The deal would enshrine in law the founding principles of open standards and net neutrality, and protect the web from political interference. It includes a commitment from countries to sustain the technological foundations that underpin the web's infrastructure. The draft law has been likened to the Space Treaty, signed in 1967, which stated that space exploration should be carried out for the benefit of all nations, and guaranteed 'free access to all areas of celestial bodies.'; A 'no discrimination' policy defines net neutrality. The policy puts forward the notion that data from all Internet services such as websites, email, Voice over IP (VoIP), streaming and peer-to-peer (P2P) services are treated the same and given identical priority to use network resources on a first-come-first-served basis. Critics argue that limits on network bandwidth make the no-discrimination model impractical. Several experts point out that many telecoms operators are no longer nationalized, so governments have limited reach and could face litigation if they are seen to be taking action that could hurt the profits of publically traded companies. Berners-Lee also is concerned about the digital divide. Although the Web has spread to the point where 20 percent of the world uses it, he said at the conference, that is not enough. . . '80 per cent are not part of the information society.'; Berners-Lee is the director of a foundation that is looking at what can be done to get the other 80 per cent online. Berners-Lee wrote the original Web software himself in 1990. On 25 Dec 1990 he implemented the first successful communication between an HTTP client and server via the Internet with the help of Robert Cailliau and others at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The software was made available on the Internet in 1991. In Mar 2009, CERN celebrated the 20th anniversary of Berners-Lee's proposal, and the scientist participated in the celebration. The 20th anniversary of the implementation is certain to be marked at CERN, at MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science, where he has worked since 1994, and at many of the vast number of companies, such as Google, You Tube and Facebook, which would not have been possible without his accomplishment.

Remembering the Day the World Wide Web Was Born (Scientific American 12 Mar 2009)

World Wide Web @ 20 (CERN Mar 2009)

Web inventor to help Downing Street open up government data (Guardian 10 Jun 2009)

Inspiring talk: the mini festival that urges you to do it (Guardian 21 Sep 2010)

World Wide Web Creator Berners-Lee Sounds Off at Nokia World (eWeek 15 Sep 2010)

About Net neutrality (Inquirer 20 Sep 2010)

e-Society: how the internet has changed the UK (Direct Gov.UK 22 Sep 2010)

CERN

Date written/update: 2010-12-25