The Twentieth Anniversary of the World Wide Web (WWW)
By Dialogo March 16, 2009GENEVA, March 13, 2009 (AFP) – This Friday founders of the World Wide Web (WWW) celebrate their invention’s twentieth anniversary at its birthplace, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) in Geneva. The Web (la Red in Spanish) was created by British scientist Tim Berners-Lee and his colleagues at CERN (which is officially called the European Organization for Nuclear Research) to help the thousands of scientists who collaborate on the organization’s studies stay in touch and share the results of their work over long distances. In March 1989, Berners-Lee, a young programming engineer on a temporary contract at CERN, presented a paper titled "Information Management: A Proposal." His superior in Geneva called the draft "vague but exciting" and approved it. "They had the feeling that sooner or later it was going to happen," recalled Belgian engineer Robert Caillau, who teamed with Berners-Lee. Together they began to study the language of hypertext - which begins the acronym "http" in Internet protocol - and in October 1990 they developed the first Internet browser, which is strikingly similar to current ones. "Everything we use now, blogs, etc, that was what we did in 1990. There’s no difference. That was how we started," Cailliau told the Swiss radio station RSR. This new technology was made available to the public in 1991, when CERN concluded that it did not have the capacity to ensure its development. Two years later, the organization refused to receive royalties for the invention that revolutionized the world of communications. However, we must not confuse the Web with the Internet, warns Lynn St. Amour, President of the Internet Society, for whom "the great success of Tim Berners-Lee was in understanding the power and potential of the Internet." "The Web is one of its applications, the best known and most widespread use of the Internet," she explains. Cailliau, on his part, is still amazed by the applications of the WWW and says that he would never have imagined that search engines would become so important. "I never thought that search engines would succeed. Those things are highly centralized while the web is completely decentralized," he said, without concealing that, on the other hand, certain things irritate him about the business aspect of the development of the Web. "There are things I do not like: that some people live off advertising, because I designed a model with automatic payment to pay information providers directly with digital currency," Cailliau emphasized. "And there is, of course, the big problem of identity, the trust between those who post web pages (for users) and those who view them, and the protection of children," he added. It is hoped that Tim Berners-Lee - currently a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States, and professor at the British University of Southampton - will be present at the anniversary’s celebration. Berners-Lee still leads the consortium that coordinates the development of the Web.