Sir Tim Berners-Lee, or just plain Tim as he was known back then, came up with the idea of the world wide web 25 years ago this week while working at CERN.
And although the web has been used for its fair share of unpleasantness and hatred, I don’t think any of us can deny the enormous positive difference it has made to many of our lives.
As part of the celebrations, a special 25th anniversary website has been created, where Sir Tim raises the important question of how can the web be made better.
We have much to do for the Web to reach its full potential. We must continue to defend its core principles and tackle some key challenges. To name just three:
* How do we connect the nearly two-thirds of the planet who can’t yet access the Web?
* Who has the right to collect and use our personal data, for what purpose and under what rules?
* How do we create a high-performance open architecture that will run on any device, rather than fall back into proprietary alternatives?
Simple questions to ask, and concepts which I am sure most those reading would support, but perhaps much more complicated to agree on answers and accomplish.
Of course, this is a security news site – and one of the things that we have witnessed has been the rising exploitation of websites by malware authors and hackers to spread their attacks.
Nowadays, a common way for online criminals to spread their trojans is to compromise legitimate websites, and infect the computers of users visiting them.
And poorly protected websites, created by sloppy developers or running software that hasn’t been properly patched, can be a treasure trove for hackers wanting to steal data from businesses and expose the personal information of their customers.
When I first got onto the internet, the web didn’t exist.
The most sophisticated thing I could do from my student workstation was fire an email off to an FTPmail server, requesting a remote directory listing be emailed back to me and then – if you were lucky – request that a particular file be sent in UUEncoded format back via email.
Within a few hours, if I hadn’t made any syntax errors, I’d have in my hands a copy of PKArc (the predecessor to PKZIP) or Vernon D Buerg’s LIST.COM. Those were the days when .com didn’t mean website.
It was clunky, it was slow, but I didn’t know any better.
It’s exciting to think about how much the world has changed because of the world wide web in the last 25 years, and how rapidly technology is changing the way we live.
By the way, if you’re interested in hearing more from Tim Berners-Lee, he’s giving a keynote address later this month at the LawTech Futures conference in London. I’ll be speaking in a separate session about the threats posed by hackers to the legal sector.
If any of you are there, please say hello. But most importantly, thank Sir Tim for dreaming up the concept of the WWW all those years ago.