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The World Wide Web Turns 30

06/10/2021

The World Wide Web (WWW) has now turned 30, and it’s hard to imagine life without it!

What is the World Wide Web?

Even though we all use it every day, many of us may not actually understand what 'the web' refers to. Originally created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the first iteration of the web was used to share and store scientific documents with his fellow workers at CERN in a more streamlined way. At a basic level, the web refers to a system that stores information in files and uses hyperlinks to help users navigate through them. Each file is given an address representing where it exists on a server; this address is referred to as a 'Uniform Resource Locator' (URL) and nowadays can be accessed using a web browser.

Although the terms are often used synonymously, the web shouldn't be confused with the 'internet', which actually refers to the infrastructure and networks that allow us to access this web of information. 

What could the next 30 years hold?

The main change Sir Tim Berners-Lee predicts will take place in the future is a continued trend towards safeguarding personal data, especially in relation to social media. Sir Tim has argued for a system where, instead of your data being held by organisations, such as Google, Amazon or social media platforms, users would have their data in one centralised place of their choice. They would then have the ability to decide which businesses to choose to share their data with, giving users more control over this.

Another development slowly having more impact in our lives is the so-called 'Internet of Things' (IoT). This refers to modern devices increasingly becoming better at communicating between themselves, no matter the brand, to help make our lives easier (e.g. a washing machine that connects to your WiFi to let you know when it's finished the cycle). As 5G becomes increasingly available, devices will be able to enjoy faster speeds and less latency, making our continued reliance on the web and the internet even greater.

Interestingly, still only half of the world is connected to the internet, but the continued expansion of this infrastructure will only drive the demand for smart devices and our reliance on the web. With increased demand will come further innovation, and the digital landscape over the next 30 years will no doubt be full of exciting developments.

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