Happy 30th Birthday To The World Wide Web!

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989, which means that in 2019 it turns the big 3-0! To celebrate three decades of web surfing, we thought it’d be fun to compare the World Wide Web to a typical 30-year old human, just to see how much they have in common. Turns out, surprisingly a lot!

For most people, twenties are a time of instability, evolution, and change. As people transition into their thirties, the activity-level starts to settle down into a more stable, predictable routine. The World Wide Web has taken a similar path, where the past decade was full of growth and progress. Now, we’re stepping into a new mature chapter where we’ll no doubt see the web evolve even more.

Keep scrolling to see how closely the 30-year old World Wide Web matches up to its human equivalent.

Strong & Maturing

For most of us, our twenties are spent exploring and growing as we continue to learn about ourselves. Through all this growth, as a person enters their thirties they typically feel a strengthened sense of self-identity. They are likely more self-aware, thanks to these new experiences under their belt. This represents an important phase in human development. The freedom of your twenties is what helps mold the direction of your thirties.

The World Wide Web is no different, having been through a ton of shifts over time and now settling into a strong, mature phase. The web we have today is thanks in large part to the values of its founding members to create a free and open space within which the web could evolve.

As inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee recalls, “had the web been proprietary, and in my total control, it would probably not have taken off. You can’t propose that something be a universal space and at the same time keep control of it.”

Subtle Signs of Aging

Just as people in their thirties start to notice subtle signs of aging like gray hair, wrinkles, and weight gain, the World Wide Web is also displaying some signs of wear-and-tear.

In 1995, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) introduced several founding concepts that would help keep the Web as open and free as possible. Non-discrimination, decentralization, and universality were founding principles. Yet 30 years later those same guiding principles are showing signs of erosion as the fight for Net Neutrality heats up around the world. Only the future will tell whether the Web can age in a way that ensures access for all.

Pressures of Added Responsibilities

Your thirties are usually where people experience a concentrated amount of momentous life changes, including marriage (and sometimes divorce), kids, aging parents, health concerns, and financial pressures galore.

Just like humans at this stage, the World Wide Web is facing its own set of added responsibilities to manage. New privacy laws, changing consumer landscape, equality issues and rapidly changing tech innovations all create new levels of accountability for the 30-year-old Web.

Climbing the Corporate Ladder

Your thirties are typically when people see their careers flourish. With several post-college working years behind them, many professionals earn promotions as they progress up the organizational structure.

The World Wide Web is climbing a different summit, one that involves a mountain of data. Today, Google sees nearly 78,000 web searches every second! Within this elevated level activity and advancements in AI technology, the World Wide Web holds the potential to become a completely new productivity tool; one that can feed data warehouses with the richest, most real-time information possible.

Planning For The Future

Although plenty of 30-year-olds prioritize planning for the future, a trend shows that many are delaying the responsibilities of older age, waiting to have children and buy a home until later (or never). Still, your thirties are usually a time when people focus more on investing for retirement and saving for a home.

The World Wide Web is also planning for the future. Most notably, on the 30-year anniversary, Inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee warns us that fighting for Net Neutrality is one of the most critical issues of our time. Listen to his full audio broadcast here.

World Wide Web Milestones, By Age

Just like parents track their child’s achievements over a timeline, we thought it’d be cool to see the types of milestones the World Wide Web achieved at each age.

Here’s a summary of the World Wide Web’s milestones, and its age at the time:

  • 1989 – Birthday (March 11th to be exact). Browse the first website using the line-mode browser simulator
  • 1993 – 4 years old (announced the WWW code would be available royalty-free, forever)
  • 1994 – 5 years old (W3C is founded, and introduces Net Neutrality + other revolutionary, equality-based ideas)
  • 1998 – 9 years old (Google is founded)
  • 2001 – 12 years old (dot-com bubble bursts)
  • 2002 – 13 years old (Web 2.0 phenomenon begins)
  • 2009 – 20 years old (established the World Wide Web Foundation)
  • 2014 – 25 years old (nearly 2 out of 5 people worldwide were using the WWW)
  • 2019 – 30 years old (the fight for the free web continues)

References & Related Articles:

  1. https://owlcation.com/social-sciences/Adult-Developmental-Stages-Adults-in-Their-30s
  2. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/04/the-average-29-year-old/479139/
  3. https://www.internetsociety.org/internet/
  4. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/4-charts-that-prove-that-todays-30-year-olds-are-not-adults-2016-06-30
  5. https://www.webopedia.com/DidYouKnow/Internet/Web_vs_Internet.asp
  6. https://www.internetsociety.org/internet/how-it-works/
  7. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/world-wide-web-30-its-inventor-has-warning-us-n982156
  8. https://webfoundation.org/2019/03/web-birthday-30/
  9. https://soundcloud.com/user-925359775-464012623/tim-berners-lee-30-years-on-whats-next-fortheweb
  10. https://first-website.web.cern.ch/
  11. http://info.cern.ch/
  12. https://home.cern/science/computing/birth-web
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