Today is the 30th anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee’s invention of the World Wide Web. Just to be clear, as someone always brings this up, he didn’t invent the internet itself – that is best credited to Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn. However, the WWW has still undeniably changed my life and yours for the better over many years.
That moment in the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, where Tim Berners-Lee tweeted live to the world that “this is for everyone”, was to me one of the real highlights of that year. How I miss that time when we were still a cosmopolitan, inclusive, future-facing country.
What’s gone wrong?
In previous posts about WWW and internet anniversaries, I’ve always thanked people like TBL and VC for their inventions. But now I’m not so sure. It’s still a technology that improved all our lives immeasurably, that was and always will be the case. But something has gone very, very wrong in recent years, as we’ve seen with the deliberate misuse of our data for nefarious purposes including the manipulation of elections. Cambridge Analytica and Putin’s troll farms are just the tip of the iceberg in this regard.
Another issue is the increasingly hostile and abusive discourse on social media, particularly Twitter. I increasingly think that “Internet 2.0”, from which most social media including Facebook and Twitter sprang, is in some ways the worst thing that ever happened to the internet.
TBL has long recognised the issues of both data protection and social media abuse and now he has helped to launch a Contract for the Web to return the WWW to what he always intended it to be – a force for good that belongs to us all. Please take the time to visit the page and help reclaim the web from those who seek to subvert it.