The Internet! The World Wide Web!

You should be on the internet if you know what’s good for you.  Just ask these kids from 1995!

But in all seriousness, it is amazing that everything the kids talked about – using the internet as our television, workplace, phone, to shop – and more – is now reality.  It is interesting to look back and think about how the internet and the World Wide Web has evolved.  

In class, we have been talking about some of the major players and inventors of the internet.  One person I’m particularly fascinated by is Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, and then basically gave it away for free.  In the 1980s, Berners-Lee worked for Cern, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which is a physics laboratory.  While he was working there, he found it frustrating that in order to get information from a computer, you often had to go to that actual computer to look at the information – for example, there was no easy way for the physicists to exchange information with each other without meeting face to face.  So, Berners-Lee developed a way to make the internet more accessible to the public.   He invented HTML, URI, and HTTP, along with the World Wide Web.  Cern made the WWW technology available free to the public in 1993.

Currently, Berners-Lee leads the Worldwide Web Consortium, (www.w3.org), and in the FAQ section, he answers a popular question, if he has “mixed emotions about ‘cashing in’ on the Web”.  He states that he does not:  “It was simply that had the technology been proprietary, and in my total control, it would probably not have taken off. The decision to make the Web an open system was necessary for it to be universal. You can’t propose that something be a universal space and at the same time keep control of it.”

Truly, Tim Berners-Lee is an important figure when we think about the internet, because he is the person that helped develop the protocols that made it possible for the public to easily access and exchange data.  (Technology that even allowed children from 1995 to find cat food cupcake recipes on the internet!  Important stuff, there.)

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