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Happy 25th Birthday, World Wide Web!

Posted by Rebecca Blake on March 17, 2014

Web at 25 logoMarch 12th was the 25th birthday of the World Wide Web, and the anniversary is being marked with events and well wishes from world leaders, innovators, philanthropists, and ordinary folk. To mark the occasion, the World Wide Web Consortium and the World Wide Web Foundation have created Webat25.org. Visitors can view message from Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, leave a happy birthday message, read little-known facts and a brief history of the Web, and bookmark a calendar of events.

The Web was first proposed by Berners-Lee in March of 1989, as an “information management system” while working as a consultant at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The proposal intended to address the loss of information which occurred as the complex systems were developed at CERN. His vision was radical, a linked information system that would provide a “web” of notes, rather than a traditional fixed, hierarchical structure was quite radical at the time. His proposal wasn’t accepted but with the encouragement of his supervisor, Berners-Lee continued to work on his concept, coining the term “World Wide Web” for the project. (Earlier monikers included “Information Mesh” and “Mine of Information.”) By 1990, with the collaboration of other key innovators, he developed the first iteration of the Web, complete with HTML, URLs, and a browser.

Celebrations of the anniversary culminate with a symposium on the Web’s future on October 29th in Santa Clara. Berners-Lee is taking the anniversary as an opportunity to position global access to the Web as a basic human right, calling for a digital bill of rights. The World Wide Web Foundation has coordinated a Web We Want campaign to build support for “people’s online rights to a free, open and truly global web protected by law in every country.” The campaign solicits feedback from the public, offering small grants for anniversary events which will engage people in discussing and debating the Web’s future.

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