As the Web Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary, What Should Its Future Be?

Posted in: Internet Use/New Technologies at 24/03/2019 17:06

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web, the most influential technology of our time. Its evolution and impact have been phenomenal, and its growth continues unabated. Within a mere 30 years, the Web has irrevocably revolutionized the world and our lives, ushering in the Information Age. It has become indispensable, and it has impacted almost every aspect of our activities and almost all industries. But no one anticipated it.


Tim Berners-Lee, a 33-year-old software engineer at CERN, envisioned a unifying structure for linking information stored on multiple incompatible computers. Inhis “Information Management: A Proposal,” published in 1989 and 1990, he developed a new way of linking and sharing information among a small group of scientists over the Internet. He sought approval for the project from his boss, who wrote on the first page, “vague but exciting,” and gave him the go-ahead. Two years later the first Web page went online.

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There are now four competing visions of the internet. How should they be governed?
On the fringe of the 2019 World Economic Forum gathering at Davos, trade ministers from 75 members of the World Trade Organisation, between them responsible for 90% of global trade, issued a joint statement on the governance of electronic commerce. The Americans were with them in spirit, although (thanks to a government shutdown) they didn’t turn up.

Nevertheless the 76 agreed to begin negotiations, under WTO conditions and building on existing WTO commitments, on the trade-related aspects of e-commerce. In the words of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, WTO rules will serve “the revitalization of the WTO negotiating function and the necessary reform of the WTO, and will help the WTO better respond to calls from the industry and boost the confidence of all in the multilateral trading system and economic globalization at large”.

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