Web Turns 35, Seems Popular

The world wide web has officially lasted 35 consecutive years, which means it’s catching up to its parent, the Internet, which itself is bearing down on 55. That’s an important distinction. The Internet is not the web; it is the foundation on which the web was born.

Prior Years

For the web’s 25 year birthday in 2014, the World Wide Web Consortium (the standards body behind HTML and CSS, among other standards) and the World Wide Web Foundation teamed up to create the site webat25.org.

That site went offline and the domain was allowed to lapse (purchased by a rando). Conveniently WebAt25.org is at the Internet Archive, hopefully preserving it for another 25 years.

In honor of the web’s 30 year anniversary in 2019, the W3C, the World Wide Web Foundation, and CERN teamed up to create a 30th anniversary site. That site is still online.

Also in 2019, CERN gathered some developers to re-write the first web browser as a client-side script that you can run in your own browser. You can read some history and documentation, then fire it up and start surfing at worldwideweb.cern.ch/browser (you will need the instructions).

This Year

This year the W3C made a blog post. That’s not snark. I would rather they spend money on WAI efforts than big events for an anniversary that does not map to AARP membership or years not associated with gems or precious metal.

Over the years, the Web and its underlying standards have evolved to provide solutions to emerging problems around the world. To name a few, the creation of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) in 1997 was seminal to the deployment of content and sites that are accessible to all, including disabled people; the adoption in 1998 of the Internationalization (i18n) framework to adapt web technologies to the world’s various writing systems thus making the World Wide Web truly world-wide; but also advances that durably shaped the web platform such as Web payments enabling e-Commerce; secure, privacy-respecting and robust online experiences with WebAuthn, Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs), ActivityPub, etc.

You can read Tim Berners-Lee’s original definition of the web from March 1989, Information Management: A Proposal. It includes state-of-the-art diagrams.

A very chunky diagram of a computer representing a generic browser, a cylinder as a hypertext server, and another cylinder that is a dummy hypertext server which makes an existing database look like hypertext to the browser; these two are connected by arrows and the browser points to both.
Fig 3. A hypertext gateway allows existing data to be seen in hypertext form by a hypertext browser.

Some other historical bits I have covered on my blog:

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