The World Wide Web was invented 30 years ago, and we’re grateful every day that it was. So is Google, which is celebrating the anniversary with a Doodle that hearkens back to a simpler time.
Tuesday’s graphic features a nostalgic 8-bit font and a bulky computer complete with a CD drive and a keyboard with large, clunky keys. With the help of a dial-up modem, an image of a rotating earth slowly — almost pixel by pixel — loads onto the screen.
On this day in 1989, English software engineer Tim Berners-Lee submitted a proposal that detailed the creation of the World Wide Web. His boss’s response? That his ideas were “vague but exciting.”
In the years that followed, Berners-Lee wrote the first HTML language, the HTTP application, and the first web browser. Fast forward 30 years and we now have nearly 2 billion websites online and virtually nothing that can’t be done with the click of a button.
“The web has become a public square, a library, a doctor’s office, a shop, a school, a design studio, an office, a cinema, a bank, and so much more,” Berners-Lee wrote in an open letter.
“[But] it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier to commit,” he added.
Numerous scandals involving privacy breaches have hit headlines in recent years, with one of the biggest involving Facebook, consulting firm Cambridge Analytica and the harvesting of data from more than 87 million users in March 2018.
The web also fuels the dangerous spread of misinformation; search engine optimization tactics can push fake news stories to the top of Google search results, feeding internet users with falsities.
Acknowledging the ways in which the web can become a breeding ground for malicious intent, Berners-Lee emphasized the need to “come together as a global web community,” calling for companies, governments and individuals to do more.
“Today, half of the world is online,” he said. “It is more urgent than ever to ensure the other half are not left behind offline, and that everyone contributes to a web that drives equality, opportunity and creativity.”