The Web at 20 years

ONmag_WebspecialTim Berners-Lee, credited with inventing the World Wide Web, made the first proposal for it in March 1989, and on 25 December 1990, with the help of Robert Cailliau and a young student at CERN, he implemented the first successful communication between an HTTP client and server via the Internet.

That’s 20 years ago! So to commemorate, ON magazine has published a special edition that looks at the Web at 20 (PDF download). It contains a range of interviews with key people involved in the development of the WWW, exploring both the historical development and future directions of this phenomenon.

Contents include:

  • Tim Berners-Lee on His World-Changing Invention
  • Bob Metcalfe on the Past and Future of the Web, Networking, and Energy
  • Plus, Insights from Dozens of Other Entrepreneurs and Opinion Makers on How the Web Has Changed Our Lives

The mag is a a great read – providing all sorts of valuable insights for those who have lived through this development, and something of an historical record for those who have been born since and grown up used to it. In particular, check out what many of the people interviewed say when they share their thoughts about what things might be like 20 years from now.

I got to thinking, as I read, that this would be a great resource for use in secondary classrooms. What appeals is the emphasis on exploring the motivations and original intentions of those who first conceived of the idea of a WWW, and how those original ideas have been fulfilled (or, in some cases, superceded). The following extract from the introduction provides a taste of what I mean:

Future Focused – Equally important, they [Berners-Lee and Metcalf] both remain deeply involved in exploring how the web can be harnessed to address some of the greatest challenges we face as a society. Metcalfe’s vision for increasing the efficiency of energy distribution by emulating certain core characteristics of the Internet is compelling. Berners-Lee discusses how we can accelerate discovery and collaboration on a large scale by freeing data from today’s information “silos” and allowing it to be linked together via the Semantic web.

I’d be interested to hear of examples of this edition being used with students in this way – I’m sure there’s inspiration here for the next generation of thinkers and innovators.

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