|Scooped by Anita Alvare|
What did you do before the letters “www” meant something to you? (And don’t say, “I had a life.”). When I learned that the World Wide Web was celebrating its 25th birthday last week, I was surprised that it had only been around for 25 years. It seems like we’ve never lived without it. But we did. When we had a life.
People often confuse the Internet with the World Wide Web as though it’s one and the same.
The Internet – “a network of networks” – goes all the way back to pre-historic times (1969) when a UCLA student programmer sent a message from his computer to one at neighboring Stanford.
The World Wide Web was created 20 years later by Sir Tim Berners-Lee who first proposed an “information management” system that eventually became the conceptual and architectural structure for the Web.
For an invention that can seem soulless at times, the inventor himself by all accounts is a very generous human being.
On Christmas Day, 1990, he released the code for his system to the world - for free - giving ordinary folks like you and me the ability to access all manner of information and interact over the Internet.
This Oxford-educated brain-i-ac has a sense of humor, too. On his official bio he has a list of “Before You Email Me” advice. It includes this gem:
If you need someone to find something for you about some arbitrary subject (travel agents, or parakeets or whatever), don't ask me, but try the Virtual Library for example, or your favorite search engine.
(Who exactly thinks to email the creator of the Web…?).
What’s fascinating is that no one owns the Web/Net.
So if no one’s in control, who decides where it’s headed?
The Pew Research Center’s Internet Project recently conducted a survey entitled, “Digital Life in 2025,” which looked at the future of the Internet, the Web, and other digital activities.
In its summary, it suggested that “the Internet will become ‘like electricity’ - less visible, yet more deeply embedded in people’s lives for good and ill.”
Some interesting/sobering predictions of note:
Joe Touch, director at the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute: “The Internet will shift from the place we find cat videos to a background capability that will be a seamless part of how we live our everyday lives. We won’t think about ‘going online’ or ‘looking on the Internet’ for something - we’ll just be online, and just look.”
Judith Donath, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society: “We’ll have a picture of how someone has spent their time, the depth of their commitment to their hobbies, causes, friends, and family. This will change how we think about people, how we establish trust, how we negotiate change, failure, and success.”
Aron Roberts, software developer at the University of California-Berkeley: “We may well see wearable devices and/or home and workplace sensors that can help us make ongoing lifestyle changes and provide early detection for disease risks, not just disease.”
David Hughes, an Internet pioneer, who from 1972 worked in individual to/from digital telecommunications: “All 7-plus billion humans on this planet will sooner or later be ‘connected’ to each other and fixed destinations, via the Uber(not Inter)net.”
Llewellyn Kriel, CEO and editor in chief of TopEditor International Media Services: “Everything - every thing - will be available online with price tags attached. Cyber-terrorism will become commonplace. Privacy and confidentiality of any and all personal will become a thing of the past. Online ‘diseases’ - mental, physical, social, addictions (psycho-cyber drugs) - will affect families and communities and spread willy-nilly across borders.”
And perhaps the biggest takeaway from the study: The world will have universal access to all human knowledge.
I used to know a lot about a little. It’s looking like I may soon know a little about a lot.
Anita Alvare (bio)/Alvare Associates/610-520-6140
Information Technology, Internet, World Wide Web, The Pew Research Center’s Internet Project, Digital Life