In 1989, British Computer Scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, the foundations for the Internet as we know it today. As if that amazing achievement was not enough, he decided to make it freely available to everyone, rather than patent or protect it commercially. Given how important the Internet is today, the world could have been very different had this idea occurred to someone less socially conscious than Sir Tim.
Had the web instead been owned by an evil genius, I have little doubt that the world would now be a dark dystopian nightmare, similar to the vision portrayed in Elysium or Back to the Future Part II. I am sure that even those of us with a less active imagination, and a more developed ability to separate fact from fiction, can imagine how different life would be today without the advancements that a freely available Internet has provided.
The whole principle that most web-based content should be available for free has endured surprising well, given the aggressive commercialisation across the rest of society. For this, and the opportunities that the Internet has provided for the world, we want to say a special thank-you to Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Rather than focus on the technical aspects of the invention, this post is a simple tribute which aims to highlight some of the amazing social achievements that have been possible thanks to the decision to make the World Wide Web freely available.
Access to Knowledge
The Internet has in many ways democratised information and knowledge. Both in our local communities and in developing countries around the world, it is now much easier for poorer people to access high quality information. We are not saying that it is easy for everyone, as you still need to have a device and connection capable of accessing the web. However, it is now much easier to find useful information that can increase our knowledge of almost any field.
Before the Internet you would need access to books, or people with experience, in order to learn more about a certain area of business or academic study. Now, with a phone, or an hour in an Internet cafÃ©, we can access an enormous range of high quality reference material if we are motivated to improve our knowledge of a subject.
Spreading the Wealth (Slowly)
There were 2.4 million small businesses in the UK in 1980. That number has since doubled, rising to 4.8 million in 2012. A major contributing factor to this enormous growth has been the introduction of the Internet. Small businesses can reach a much bigger potential market by using the Internet to market to customers outside their local community. This was much more difficult and expensive in 1980, which meant that small businesses relied heavily on local trade.
This has meant that it is much easier for new, smaller businesses to compete with the big corporations. The result of this increased competition is often lower prices, and the spread of the wealth to a larger number of people. We are still a long way away from a fair society where everyone has equal access to wealth, and the big companies still weald huge power and influence. However the Internet has enabled a move in the right direction, and allowed new businesses to reach markets previously unavailable to them.
Social Equality and Community Power
The use of social networks in recent political revolutions has been well documented, and represents a huge step forward for people controlled by oppressive political regimes. It is very difficult for a government to prevent people organising themselves and sharing ideas on the Internet, which is a massive victory for freedom of speech and social equality.
Recently, Facebook played an integral role in organising Egyptian people to rise up against the government that they felt were not representing their best interests. Social media now sits alongside politics, giving people a platform to speak out against issues and grievances.
The web is one of the fastest developing areas of creativity and innovation ever seen. New technology is launched every day, and most new concepts for business and entertainment have the web ingrained at their core. Who in 1980 could have conceived of streaming your favourite song, legally, for free, on your mobile phone, whilst instant-messaging your friend on the other side of the world on a social network?
The Internet is integrated into almost every part of life. It liberates people, it educates people, it makes our lives easier and more interesting. The world is a better place with it, and the future possibilities are endless and exciting.
So, Sir Tim, on behalf of the whole world, we would like to say thank you. Let us know if you are ever looking for a high quality small business website design, and in keeping with the community spirit that you initiated, we will gladly provide you one for free. Obviously we are aware that you could make a great website yourself, given the fact that you invented the World Wide Web, but itâ€™s the thought that counts!
For everyone else who didnâ€™t invent the World Wide Web and give it away for free, we would also be very happy to make you a website, and our prices start from Â£299.00. We hope to hear from you soon.