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The World Wide Web Is 30: Here Are Some Things We Love — And Hate — About It


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Thirty years ago this week, Tim Berners-Lee, then a scientist at CERN, released "Information Management: A Proposal." While the capital-I Internet had been around for nearly two decades when Berners-Lee submitted his proposal on March 12, 1989, he laid the foundation for the World Wide Web — though in his own appraisal, he was merely taking existing technologies like the Internet Protocol, Domain Name Service and Hypertext, and organizing them into a unified system.
Depending on the context, the World Wide Web has either been around forever, or not very long. It's old enough that the largest generation on the planet was just being born as the World Wide Web took shape. Millennials grew up on the web, and yet in 30 short years the industry that popped up around it has crashed once, revived itself, and spawned companies so large and so influential that it's nigh impossible to live without dealing with one or all of them.
This week, as more and more folks share their fond memories of a World Wide Web running three-decades strong, you'll probably catch yourself pining for simpler times. A time before your personal information was forfeit; a time when browsing the web wasn't idly thumbing through a feed; a time when buying something online didn't mean perpetuating awful working conditions; a time when a single website didn't encourage genocide and sway presidential elections.
It's easy to reminisce on what was. But for what it's worth, on the 30th anniversary of his creation, Tim Berners-Lee is not looking back. In his annual assessment of the state of the web, Berners-Lee is cautiously optimistic. "Against the backdrop of news stories about how the web is misused, it's understandable that many people feel afraid and unsure if the web is really a force for good," he writes. "But given how much the web has changed in the past 30 years, it would be defeatist and unimaginative to assume that the web as we know it can't be changed for the better in the next 30."



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