25 years ago today, Sir Timothy “Tim” Berners-Lee proposed a modest information management system that ended up changing how we communicate forever. It was the critical leap that shifted the internet from a closed research tool to an environment that includes the popular and diverse World Wide Web we know today. It is hard to imagine a world without Berners-Lee’s contribution: it enabled websites hosting everything from personal blogs, news, entertainment, retail, and of course cute animals.
Following Berners-Lee’s proposal for HTTP and HTML, suddenly anybody with the right tools could create and share without limits online. Since the early 1990s, the World Wide Web has ballooned from a few hundred to more than two billion indexed websites today. More than a third of our planet’s population is online, enjoying humanity’s creativity from almost anywhere they can connect. Today it seems almost silly to sing the internet’s praises: a generation has grown up with access to a world beyond its borders. Today’s anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the challenges that we still face in securing an open internet for everyone on this planet to enjoy, and encourage us to continue the struggle to ensure a diverse, innovative, and empowering internet around the globe.
Few people predicted the internet would become as powerful of a game-changer as it turned out to be. Access invites every internet user to wish the World Wide Web a happy birthday by using #web25 or by visiting webat25.org.
Last year, Access joined a coalition of international organizations in launching the Web We Want campaign, to build support for national and regional efforts ensuring that everyone everywhere can go online and participate in the free flow of knowledge, ideas, collaboration and creativity over the open web. Together, we support the following principles:
- Affordable access to a universally available communications platform,
- The protection of personal user information and the right to communicate in private,
- Freedom of expression online and offline,
- Diverse, decentralized and open infrastructure,
- Neutral networks that don’t discriminate against content or users.
As the internet has grown in popularity and power, the game has changed. Over the past few years we have seen both governments and businesses try to tighten their control over the World Wide Web. At Access we’ll keep fighting to make sure that on the 50th anniversary of Berners-Lee’s invention, the web will not only still be safe for kittens, but as informative, educational, and transformative as its always been.