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World Wide Web’s 20th Birthday

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Sunday March 15, 2009 )

Just over 20 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee submitted his paper ‘Information Management: A Proposal’. His boss said it was “vague, but exciting” – and Mr. Berners-Lee was allowed to proceed with his research – which became the World Wide Web.

The original paper can be viewed here. The document actually gathered dust for 7 months before Berners-Lee was provided with cash to buy some computers and pursue the concept. After that point, it’s somewhat of a blur – the timeline for the evolution of the World Wide Web has been astounding.

Even though so much has been achieved, Berners-Lee believes we are still just looking at the tip of the iceberg in relation to what is yet to come; particularly in regards to the “semantic web”. His vision as stated in 1999:

“I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘Semantic Web’, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The ‘intelligent agents’ people have touted for ages will finally materialize.”

It’s hard to believe that 20 years have flown by – the Internet has really changed our world.

2 decades ago, my only brush with computers was at school – programming a turtle to draw a box. It was incredibly boring and I turned my attention to beer, which in turn saw me with a somewhat checkered career up until the mid-90’s when I rediscovered computing thanks to Windows and shortly afterwards, the Internet.

To say these two events changed my life is an understatement and I often wonder how different my life would have been without them.


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