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On the 20th Anniversary of the Web, Its Inventor Sounds a Warning

December 29, 2010, 12:00 AM
Web

The World Wide Web turned 20 this month.  To mark the occasion, its creator and protector, Tim Berners-Lee (who invented it so that particle physicists from CERN—the current home of the Large Hadron Collider—could collaborate remotely) warns that the egalitarian ubiquity of the Web "is being threatened in different ways. Some of its most successful inhabitants have begun to chip away at its principles. Large social-networking sites are walling off information posted by their users from the rest of the Web. Wireless Internet providers are being tempted to slow traffic to sites with which they have not made deals. Governments—totalitarian and democratic alike—are monitoring people’s online habits, endangering important human rights." In an essay for Scientific American, Berners-Lee urges us to treat the Web as a public resource and resist forces that threaten its universality.

Does Berners-Lee have any regrets about his invention?  He admitted, in an earlier interview with the New York Times, that if he could design the Web again, he wouldn't require the double slash (the //) after the "http:" in Web addresses that has become the bane of sloppy typists everywhere. 

Jay Rosen, who teaches a course at NYU on "The Rise of the Web," spoke to Big Think about Berners-Lee's motivation in inventing the Web.

 

More from the Big Idea for Wednesday, December 29 2010

 

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