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The World Wide Web needs to grow up

Posted on Mar 12, 2019.

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Today marks the 30th anniversary of the first ever proposal put forward for the World Wide Web (WWW) by the Web's inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Sir Tim has delivered a speech to mark this landmark in time, speaking of better regulations of the online world to secure the Web's future as a vital resource for the world. But Sir Tim's concerns were made clear in his speech saying that the principle of a free, open Web had become threatened in recent years. This speech definitely made it clear that he believes the WWW needs to move out of its "adolescent" stage.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee speech excerpts:

"Today, 30 years on from my original proposal from an information management system, half the world is online,"

"It's a moment to celebrate how far we've come, but also an opportunity to reflect on how far we have to go."

"While the Web has changed opportunity, given marginalised groups a voice, and made our daily lives easier, it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier to commit."

Three "sources of dysfunction" that are affecting the Web today, described by Sir Tim:

  • Cybercrime and harrassment.

  • System design issues rewarding content such as clickbait.

  • "Unintended negative consequences" of design leading to a negativity spreading online.

However, regardless of the above concerns raised, Sir Tim is still optimistic about the future of the WWW, which he said needs support from "a global Web community".

Sir Tim founded the Web Foundation, which works with governments, companies, and citizens could also help support the World Wide Web. The Web Foundation is working towards building a new contract for the Web, looking to establish concrete "norms, laws, and standards" for the Web.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee speech excerpts continued:

"...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."

"If we give up on building a better Web now, then the Web will not have failed us. We will have failed the Web."

*Photo credit: Bryan Bedder (Getty)

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