Twenty-one years ago was a different time. In 1991, the cold war ended, Magic Johnson announced he had HIV, the first Sonic the Hedgehog game was released by Sega, and Tim Berners-Lee announced the World Wide Web project and software on the alt.hypertext newsgroup and the first website, "info.cern.ch" is created. As a child growing up in the United States, these are just a few of the things that helped shaped my life.
The World Wide Web Cast its Net
Of course, it would be awhile until I really understood what the World Wide Web would mean for me as a student, consumer and business owner. Often associated with the Internet -- albeit incorrectly -- the Web brought us a massive collection of text documents and other resources, linked by hyperlinks and URLs, accessed by web browsers from web servers. And our lives have not been the same since.
The man behind the Web recently celebrated the twenty-first anniversary of his contribution. Having been knighted in 2004, Sir Tim Berners-Lee was recently celebrated for his achievements during the opening ceremony of the Games of the XXX Olympiad hosted in London.
And while the World Wide Web has brought us so much, its contributions to the enterprise are significantly remarkable. While Usenet members may have been connecting globally with others for some time, the WWW helped create a global marketplace in which companies and consumers could engage, socialize and exchange goods and services in a way that would drive business.
British scientist and Londoner Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web applauds during the Olympics opening ceremony (Photo credit: London 2012)
A Regulated Web is a Successful Web
But the existence of the Web alone didn’t just revolutionize online business. The standards that regulated the way companies created business online did. As if creating the Web wasn’t enough, Sir Berners-Lee also founded the the W3C at MIT, which brought together companies that were willing to create standards and recommendations to improve the quality of the Web.
There’s no mistaking that Berners-Lee is wholly British (and not American) as he made his idea available freely, with no patent and no royalties due. As such, the World Wide Web Consortium also decided that its standards should be based on royalty-free technology, so that they could easily be adopted by anyone.
To Sir, With Love
Twenty-one years later, it’s business as usual on the Web. Even as it evolves and new web technologies emerge, no one doubts that the web is still alive and thriving. Sure it may manifest in different ways like mobile or tablets, but without the original, none of these platforms and interfaces would be a reality.
We salute you Sir Tim Berners-Lee. As you continue you help make data more open and accessible on the Web and work towards making Net Neutrality a reality, I am reminded that of all technological and cultural changes that have been borne during the last twenty-one years, many of them would not have been without the Web.