This is for everyone: This is the World Wide Web

Marrakeand the word of Berners-Leesh at subset
Computing would be a lot lighter on integrity without him...

The web is more a social creation than technical one. I designed it for a social effect — to help people work together — and not as a technical toy.

Tim Berners-Lee

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This is for everyone

During the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, Tim Berners-Lee was honoured as the “Inventor of the World Wide Web”. For his part in the ceremony, he appeared, sitting at a vintage NeXT computer, and tweeted “This is for everyone”. His words were instantly spelled out in LCD lights attached to the chairs of 80,000 people in the audience.

This is for everyone tweeted about the web at the London Olympics
This is for everyone, photo by Nick Webb

The spectacle was one of many celebrating inspiring people and achievement’s opening the London Olympics. It was clear though that it was not just the Games that Tim was referring to.

The web is for sharing

“The original idea of the web was that it should be a collaborative space where you can communicate through sharing information.” Tim has explained. He made the idea of the web available freely, with no patent and no royalties due and has since been active in initiatives to make data more open and freely accessible on the web, He is clear it should be a “medium for positive change”. He is a firm advocate of net neutrality and has expressed the view that ISPs should supply “connectivity with no strings attached”, and should neither control nor watch the browsing activities of customers without their expressed consent.

The power to connect with the world

Since his first web site in 1989, the web has evolved into the social network that Berners-Lee first imagined and continues to be one of the most important sources of free information the world has ever seen. It is hardly a surprise that when the British Council assembled a panel of 25 scientists, academics, writers, and world leaders to choose the ‘cultural moments that shaped the world’, the invention of the World Wide Web was ranked number one. The Council stated: “The fastest growing communications medium of all time, the internet has changed the shape of modern life forever. We can connect with each other instantly, all over the world”.

What is a surprise though, is how little known Tim is. While most of our pupils can roll call the billionaire businessmen of the internet, far fewer know the person who gave us, for free, the power to connect with the world.

5 questions to ask your class about... Tim Berners-Lee and the WWW

1. What does the first ever web page look like? How is it different from today’s web pages – and how is it the same?
2. Why did Tim want to make the World Wide Web available for free?
3. What did Tim want the WWW to do for people? Has this happened?
4. Is all the information on the World Wide Web true and reliable? How can you check?
5. Should information be free or should people have to pay to find out the facts about things?

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