2014-3-10 // by Tim Berners-Lee

Twenty-five years ago today, I filed the proposal for what was to become the World Wide Web. My boss dubbed it ‘vague but exciting’. Luckily, he thought enough of the idea to allow me to quietly work on it on the side. 

In the following quarter-century, the Web has changed the world in ways that I never could have imagined. There have been many exciting advances.  It has generated billions of dollars in economic growth, turned data into the gold of the 21st century, unleashed innovation in education and healthcare, whittled away geographic and social boundaries, revolutionised the media, and forced a reinvention of politics in many countries by enabling constant two-way dialogue between the rulers and the ruled.

There are a few principles which allowed the web, as a platform, to support such growth.  By design, the Web is universal, royalty-free, open and decentralised. Thousands of people worked together to build the early Web in an amazing, non-national spirit of collaboration; tens of thousands more invented the applications and services that make it so useful to us today, and there is still room for each one of us to create new things on and through the Web.  This is for everyone

Today, and throughout this year, we should celebrate the Web’s first 25 years. But though the mood is upbeat, we also know we are not done. We have much to do for the Web to reach its full potential. We must continue to defend its core principles and tackle some key challenges. To name just three:

  • How do we connect the nearly two-thirds of the planet who can’t yet access the Web?
  • Who has the right to collect and use our personal data, for what purpose and under what rules?
  • How do we create a high-performance open architecture that will run on any device, rather than fall back into proprietary alternatives?

There are no easy answers to these, and many other questions. Remember though that the Web was built by all of us, and so we all can, and should, play a role in defining its future. So please get involved. Send a birthday message to the Web using #web25 on any social media platform or by using this site. Support the work of the World Wide Web Foundation and the Web We Want campaign. Engage with the World Wide Web Consortium to imagine and build the future standards that will keep the Web the powerful platform for innovation that it is, starting with a symposium on the future of the Web.

Please visit this site (webat25.org) regularly for more details on events to celebrate the Web’s birthday and for more on how you can be involved in shaping its future. By working together, I believe we can build a Web that truly is for everyone: one that is accessible to all, from any device, and one that empowers all of us to achieve our dignity, rights and potential as humans. Let’s use this landmark birthday as a crucial step on that path.

Translations of this post

Video transcript:

[Screen: Web25th Anniversary logo]

Imagine the world if the world wide web were turned off.

[Screen goes to white noise]

My name is Tim Berners-Lee, and I care deeply about the Web.

[Screen: Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the World Wide Web]

In March 1989, I wrote a proposal for a universal linked information
system that became the world wide web.

[Screen: Photo of original computer used to create the Web, and
excerpt of original proposal.]

Twenty-five years later, the Web is a powerful enabler of people,
economic activity, and democracy. So important that some have argued
that access to the Web should be elevated to a human right.

[Screen: Photo of Tim and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at
a press event on Human Rights Day 2013]

At this important milestone we need to ask ourselves:

* How do we make the web truly global; available to all people?

* How do we secure the web to protect our personal information?

* What does the web need to be more useful in education, in commerce,
in entertainment, and in social interactions?

* How do we build a universal web accessible to all, regardless of
physical or cognitive ability?

Throughout 2014, two organizations close to me—the World Wide Web
Consortium and the World Wide Web Foundation—will be organizing
activities that you can join to give answers to those questions.

Share your ideas, and make it the year that you get involved in shaping
the Web.

Together we have built an amazing Web. But we still have a lot to do
so that the Web remains truly for everyone.

[On screen: webat25.org and #web25]

Come back soon to webat25.org and happy 25th anniversary of the Web.

[On Screen: Logos for World Wide Web Consortium and World Wide Web
Foundation]