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Happy 25th anniversary, World Wide Web

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An article by Stéphane

Published on 13 March 2014

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In celebration of one of the most important inventions since print.

Twenty-five years is beginning to be a long time.

When I was in high school, back in 1987-1988, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I took some tests with the state-provided career counselor, and it appeared that I wanted to be in a job that involved people, books, reading and writing.

That was for my tastes.

Also, math teacher after math teacher said I should never drop maths, as, I quote, “it would be a waste.”

This was for my abilities.

So, what was I to do? As we read through the tests and testimonies, the career counselor said something that I’ll remember as long as I live: “You know, job experts have estimated that fifty percent of all the job titles there will be in year 2000 are still to be invented.”

Yeah, this was the time when 2000 was not too far around the corner, when we didn’t think flying cars would be ready for 2000 but we had some hopes about computers. Also, videophones like in 2001, Space Odyssey? Nah, we knew we wouldn’t have them by 2000.

Then in 1989 Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. I dived in, somewhere around 1996, and was dazzled, fascinated, mesmerized, insert-any-relevant-synonym-here.

And then 2000 came, and by then I was working as a “webmaster,” like we said at the time.

My job in 2000 had not existed in 1988.

The world as we know it was deeply and permanently transformed by the World Wide Web, and it’s only the beginning.

The Web was so simple to use that it made a computer-based world leap forward a few times, helped open-source software flourish, helped people open their minds to the rest of the world, made incredible things possible: the same day I would talk with Madhu in India, Martin in Scotland, Bill in the US, Michal in Israel. I met people all around the world, some I’ve met since, some others I haven’t met but still consider my friends. And don’t get me started on “virtual friends,” they are real. I still find it profoundly magic.

Some things were not so great, and still are: walled gardens, I’m looking at you and I don’t like you. But all in al it’s been a wonderful ride so far.

So thank you for the WWW, Sir Tim and everyone who made all this possible, and here’s for another 25 years.

Oh, and in 2000 we did have web-based videophoning, remember? The magic had happened.


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