It was 21 years ago today that Sir Tim Berners-Lee, then a humble scientist at CERN, made the first page on the World Wide Web publicly available. It’s hard now to imagine a world without the web, and it's hardly fathomable that just over two decades ago our lives were completely different based on the innovation and generosity of one man.
At its simplest level, the web was designed as a network of wires that could be accessed via terminals in homes and businesses to share information. But it has quickly become the cornerstone of how we carry out just about every task in business or our personal lives.
Shoppers now turn to the web to make their purchases, readers download their books from it, companies base their branding and marketing strategies on it. And then there’s the dot-com and web generation of giants which have become the business super powers of today, the Googles and Facebooks and Amazons. None of these could exist without the web, and what a different world it would be.
During his much-praised opening ceremony for the London Olympics, Danny Boyle chose to close his musical segment, documenting the wealth of British musical talent over the decades, with a rather surprising figure. We didn’t get Muse or Coldplay or Paul McCartney. We got Sir Tim Berners-Lee, sitting at a computer.
And how apt this appearance was, as Sir Tim tweeted out:
His reference was not only a message about the inclusivity of the London Olympics, but also reminded the audience of billions of his gesture all those years ago to donate the web to the world at large, rather than try to sell it off or keep it as a closed network.
There might have been a couple of uninformed NBC commentators – naming no names, Meredith Viera and Matt Lauer - who were shown up on air by assuming that nobody would have heard of Sir Tim, and advising their audience to “Google him”.
But we’re sure that the rest of the world are well aware now, if they weren’t before, that the whole Googling thing wouldn’t have been possible without Sir Tim and his web invention in the first place.
So Happy 21st World Wide Web, and here’s to many more exciting developments down the years.