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Sir Tim Berners-Lee fears for the web, Part 1: in the beginning

a network cableThe web has matured, and in doing so has grown in ways that its father-creator hadn’t anticipated. The web has become a social animal; if at times unruly, bawdy and a little immoral.

And on occasion there’s the sinister, threatening dark side. A side of which few dare tread.

But there’s also the edifying, even-handed and ever-entertaining side to the web. That we cannot forget.

There’s also the commercial, business-like aspect to the web, too. Ever mindful of the value of brisk commerce and good business acumen.

Not at all bad for a wee snip of a 15-year-old.

But to go from particle physics to Playboy soft porn, clearly some things were gained while others were lost along the way.

At this point, I’ll let CNN do the talkin’:

“The creator of that Web site, Tim Berners-Lee, wanted experts to be able to share data on particle smashing, even if they weren’t at CERN in Switzerland where he was doing research. CERN, in Geneva, is the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

Research facilities and universities soon started seeing benefits of this new tool for things as lofty as nuclear physics and as mundane as sharing restaurant recommendations.”

So from the very inception of the web, Sir Tim and his contemporaries were up to some pretty high-browed stuff, there’s no doubting that, but more ‘mundane’ activities had been pursued too, which I find more interesting than the serious stuff:

“… By the mid-’90s the cost of personal computers had fallen enough so that the Internet began entering peoples homes and schools as well as their workplaces. The cost, and the complexity of creating Web sites have both diminished since the beginning of the 21st century.”

However, when I set my grey cells to work on the question of the maturation of the web, two things immediately spring to mind, the first being the size of the web:

As of November 2006 “There are now 100 million websites with domain names and content on them”, said Netcraft’s Rich Miller:

“There are now more than 100 million web sites on the Internet, which gained 3.5 million sites last month to continue the dynamic growth seen throughout 2006. In the November 2006 survey we received responses from 101,435,253 sites, up from 97.9 million sites last month.”

And the second being the age of the web:

“In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee launched the World Wide Web, a multimedia branch of the Internet.”

And what an interesting differentiation that is, too! Put more simply, the Internet is the infrastructure through which the Web works. Not to be confused with or to be seen as strictly synonymous but most people do anyway, so no harm done.

Taking these two points into consideration; those points being the size and age of the web, can the web be brought to heal at such a relatively late stage? And what exactly can be done by way of remedial activities to cure the present ills as well as deal with those ills yet to come?

Well you’ll just have to wait ‘til next time, won’t you?

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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