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On Web's 25th Anniversary, Web Inventor Berners-Lee Speaks Out

All of us need to give input about the future of the Internet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee writes in guest blog post for Google.

World Wide Web

The 25th anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web was marked on March 11, and just in time to commemorate that special moment, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited with inventing the Web, presented his observations in a special guest post on The Google Official Blog.

"Today is the web's 25th birthday," wrote Berners-Lee. "On March 12, 1989, I distributed a proposal to improve information flows: 'a web of notes with links between them,'" while working for the CERN laboratory, he said. "Though CERN, as a physics lab, couldn't justify such a general software project, my boss Mike Sendall allowed me to work on it on the side. In 1990, I wrote the first browser and editor. In 1993, after much urging, CERN declared that WWW technology would be available to all, without paying royalties, forever."

Those first pieces formed the basis for what would become tens of thousands of people who began working together to build the Web, wrote Berners-Lee. "Now, about 40 percent of us are connected and creating online. The Web has generated trillions of dollars of economic value, transformed education and health care and activated many new movements for democracy around the world. And we're just getting started."

Now on the 25th anniversary of those events, Berners-Lee wrote, it's time to celebrate and to "think, discuss—and do" in regard to the future of the web as we know and use it.

"Key decisions on the governance and future of the Internet are looming, and it's vital for all of us to speak up for the web's future," he wrote. "How can we ensure that the other 60 percent around the world who are not connected get online fast? How can we make sure that the web supports all languages and cultures, not just the dominant ones?

"How do we build consensus around open standards to link the coming Internet of Things? Will we allow others to package and restrict our online experience, or will we protect the magic of the open web and the power it gives us to say, discover, and create anything? How can we build systems of checks and balances to hold the groups that can spy on the net accountable to the public? These are some of my questions—what are yours?"

To answer these and future questions and challenges, he wrote, Berners-Lee asked in his post that every Web user get involved in the future of this tool. "On the 25th birthday of the web, I ask you to join in—to help us imagine and build the future standards for the web, and to press for every country to develop a digital bill of rights to advance a free and open web for everyone. Learn more at webat25.org, and speak up for the sort of web we really want with #web25."

It's amazing to realize that the Web has only been with us for 25 years and that companies like Google, which was founded in 1998 in a Menlo Park, Calif., garage that was rented for $1,700 a month, have been around for even shorter periods. Google just celebrated its 15th birthday on Sept. 26, 2013.

The world of search has changed quite a bit in those brief 15 years. Back then, users sat down to their desktop computers with their screechy dial-up modems and waited while information slowly loaded on their machines. Back then, Google was a pure-play Internet search company with a starkly simple home page and a revolutionary plan to improve Web search using its own special algorithms.

Today, search is still the crown jewel of Google's business, but it was a springboard to the company becoming a highly diversified global enterprise that dominates the Web with search-driven online advertising, cloud applications as well as myriad other tangential ventures that it can afford to pursue due to its wealth and influence.