Happy 25th birthday dear world wide web

  • 1990's computer and monitorAlex Barker is AbilityNet's Advice and Information Officer

Facebook has been announcing with glee that the world wide web is 25 years old today.  Can you see the irony?  Just imagine a world without internet.

Let’s take a look back to August 1991. Of course because we have the internet I can quickly do a search on Google to see what happened 25 years ago. Bryan Adams was at number 1 with his monster hit “Everything I do (I do it for you)" from the Robin Hood movie starring Kevin Costner and Alan Rickman. Bread cost 54 pence and a pint of beer cost £1.37.

Without the web I’d have to make a quick trip to the public library and search through copies of old newspapers on microfiche to find this information. Or those big reference books that always seemed to be out of date, even if they were new.

Or worse you’d have to go down to the basement and search through old dusty filing cabinets. 

Within the dusty books the name Tim Berners-Lee might have been found. He worked at CERN in Switzerland and in 1980 he had created a searchable database that used the concept of “hypertext. Hypertext is the concept of being able to build text-based links from one document to another.

His dream of the web was that it would be a “common information space in which we communicate by sharing information. Its universality is essential: the fact that a hypertext link can point to anything, be it personal, local or global, be it draft or highly polished” Source: (https://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/FAQ.html).

He then goes on to say that he didn’t invent the internet. That was designed by a couple of other people named Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn who came up with the idea of “IP” or Internet Protocol.  They worked out how to unify data and to make data sharing easier.

Alex is AbilityNet's Advice and Information OfficerThe web has transformed our lives but as a disabled person the internet has been such a revelation to me.

I’ve got a fairly rare condition but I’ve managed to meet other people with the same condition. The internet made it possible.  My fiancée has the same condition as me and she lives in the southern United States.  Without the internet we probably wouldn’t have met. 

I’ve been to see her a couple of times recently and it is great to have the ability to book flights from the comfort of your own home or to apply for your American visa waiver early in the morning.  It makes things like travel so much easier because you can book your own travel as opposed to going to a travel agent and spending most of your morning trying to work out different permutations.

If your mobility isn’t great you can use the internet to do your banking or to buy your shopping. You can have it delivered to you.  No need to struggle out in December to do your Christmas shopping. Just do it online….so much easier. Less crowds and probably a bit warmer too.

No-one claims that the web is perfect. But it does save you time and effort. It also allows you to get in touch with people who have shared interests and collaborate on projects. AbilityNet do find it shocking that around 5 million people have never used the web. We're advocates on people having acces to the web because it provides you with useful information

I'm going to go for a walk now in the sunshine. But before I go I'll use a certain music streaming service to download a certain Bryan Adams song...

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