Washington, D.C, US, March 12, 2019 — The World Wide Web is now 30 years old. If it had not been invented by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, you would not be reading this. Perhaps you’d have bought the TechAcute newspaper but that is unlikely.
For this occasion, Sir Tim Berners-Lee raised his voice to comment on the development of his brainchild and point out the aspects of the web, that are not adding value to mankind. While the World Wide Web (WWW) is of significant value for education, culture, and economy, this is only the case for areas in which people can freely use the Web.
The WWW is great but not perfect
He says, “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. Of course with every new feature, every new website, the divide between those who are online and those who are not increases, making it all the more imperative to make the web available for everyone. And while the web has created opportunity, given marginalized groups a voice, and made our daily lives easier, it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier to commit.”
There are no easy solutions that could be quickly implemented but he broadly defines three sources of dysfunction affecting today’s web being the following.
- Deliberate, malicious intent, such as state-sponsored hacking and attacks, criminal behavior, and online harassment.
- System design that creates perverse incentives where user value is sacrificed, such as ad-based revenue models that commercially reward clickbait and the viral spread of misinformation.
- Unintended negative consequences of benevolent design, such as the outraged and polarised tone and quality of online discourse.
He explains, “while the first category is impossible to eradicate completely, we can create both laws and code to minimize this behavior, just as we have always done offline. The second category requires us to redesign systems in a way that change incentives. And the final category calls for research to understand existing systems and model possible new ones or tweak those we already have. You can’t just blame one government, one social network or the human spirit. Simplistic narratives risk exhausting our energy as we chase the symptoms of these problems instead of focusing on their root causes. To get this right, we will need to come together as a global web community.”
It’s up to all of us to make the Web a better place
Putting clickbait headlines out there on low-quality articles, with curious and possibly misleading feature images, can certainly increase the ad revenue of a website, but at what price?
Also interesting: Who Invented the World Wide Web? And Why?
Authors, bloggers, journalists, reporters, and really all content creators out there should be rewarded for publishing value adding, truthful and informative content, not penalized. Ad providers, such as Google through AdSense, need to evaluate content more and honor the quality, not just the number of clicks and impressions. This is certainly also in the best interest of their advertising clients.
I’d like to close this report with this quote with the hope that it would inspire you as much as it inspired myself.
“The web is for everyone and collectively we hold the power to change it. It won’t be easy. But if we dream a little and work a lot, we can get the web we want.”
– Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and Founder of the Web Foundation
YouTube: Sir Tim Berners-Lee about the WWW on Its 30th Birthday
Photo credit: The feature image has been provided by and is owned by the World Wide Web Foundation and Sir Tim Berners-Lee. It was taken by Henry Thomas.
Source: We have been provided with a press release via email.