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The 100 year web

Steven Pemberton

This year is the thirty-third anniversary of the World Wide Web being announced: on 6 August 1991, Tim Berners-Lee posted a short summary of the World Wide Web project to an internet newsgroup inviting collaborators; the first web servers had been made publicly available a few months earlier.

In the intervening years, the web has become an essential part of society's fabric. Part of that is that a huge amount of information that used to be available on paper is now (only) available electronically. One of the dangers of this is that information owners often treat the data as something ephemeral and delete old information once it becomes out of date. As a result, society is at risk of losing large parts of its history.

So it is time to assess how we use the web, how it has been designed, and what we should do to ensure that in one hundred years time (and beyond) we will still be able to access, and read, what we are now producing. We can still read 100 year-old books; why should that be any different for the Web?

This talk takes a historical view of the web, comparing its effects with those of the introduction of the book in the 15th century. It will discuss the web from its early days: why it was successful compared to other similar systems emerging at the time, the things it did right, the mistakes that were made, and how it has developed into the web we know today. It will also examine the extent to which it meets the requirements needed for such an essential part of society's infrastructure, and what still needs to be done.

Steven Pemberton

Steven Pemberton

Researcher @ CWI Amsterdam
Distinguished researcher in the fields of interaction, declarative programming, and web tech. Steven’s university tutor was Dick Grimsdale, who built the world's first transistorized computer and was himself a tutee of Alan Turing.

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