The Wonderful Web at 25

Happy Birthday

Image source: Wikipedia

March 12th 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web. It is hard to believe that pre-1989 there was no Web (or at least public access to). In recent years as the price of computers have decreased and affordable smart technologies increased, access and use of the Web for many has become a daily part of our lives. The growth in smart mobile technology has meant that users can access the Web and social networking sites on the go when and wherever they want to. The first handheld cellphone was sold on March 13, 1984 for $3995— 30 years ago!  What a long way we have come. Today not only can we use these devices to hold telephone conversations, we can also text, take photos and video and share these through social networking sites, and access information from websites. WiFi hot spots are increasingly found in public spaces – buses, cafes and shops, making it easier for users to connect.

Social Media and Virtual Communities

Without the Web there would be no social media. Enhancements made to the Web have seen a shift from static web pages (Web 1.0) and passive reading to interactive pages (Web 2.0) where user generated content can be easily added to a page and users can communicate and collaborate within the sites. Self publishing platforms such as WordPress (used for this blog) have enabled many to create their own content without the need of programming or web design skills.

The growth of social media has been exponential and many of these communities are less than 10 years old. In the chart below (Source: Wikipedia) is a list of virtual communities with more than 100 million active users. Note the dates on the right hand side as this list is updated periodically so only gives an indication of the figures, however I felt it did provide a useful feel for the growth of these sites. A list of the major active social networking websites can be found here.

virtual communities

Alexa (a web information company) keeps a list of the top 500 global sites.  The sites in the top sites lists are ordered by their 1 month alexa traffic rank. The 1 month rank is calculated using a combination of average daily visitors and page views over the past month. The site with the highest combination of visitors and page views is ranked #1. The list can also be filtered by country. In the top 10 global sites (as of today’s date) you will find four social media sites (Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter) and in the top 2o a further two (Blogger and WordPress).

Top 10 Global Sites

  1. Google
  2. Facebook
  3. YouTube
  4. Yahoo
  5. Baidu
  6. Wikipedia
  7. QQ
  8. LinkedIn
  9. Taobao
  10. Twitter

History of the Web

In March 1989 Tim Berners-Lee, a scientist working at CERN, submitted a proposal to develop a radical new way of linking and sharing information over the internet. The document was entitled Information Management: A Proposal. And so the web was born.

The name CERN is derived from the acronym for the French “Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire”, or European Council for Nuclear Research, a provisional body founded in 1952 with the mandate of establishing a world-class fundamental physics research organization in Europe. 

The World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet. The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks. With a web browser, we can view web pages that may contain text, images, videos, and other multimedia and navigate between them via hyperlinks.

Google Blog

Below is a guest post from Sir Tim Berners-Lee on the official Google Blog

On the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web, we’re pleased to share this guest post from Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web. In this post he reflects on the past, present and future of the web—and encourages the rest of us to fight to keep it free and open. -Ed.

Today is the web’s 25th birthday. On March 12, 1989, I distributed a proposal to improve information flows: “a ‘web’ of notes with links between them.”

Though CERN, as a physics lab, couldn’t justify such a general software project, my boss Mike Sendall allowed me to work on it on the side. In 1990, I wrote the first browser and editor. In 1993, after much urging, CERN declared that WWW technology would be available to all, without paying royalties, forever.

The first web server, used by Tim Berners-Lee. Photo via Wikipedia

This decision enabled tens of thousands to start working together to build the web. Now, about 40 percent of us are connected and creating online. The web has generated trillions of dollars of economic value, transformed education and healthcare and activated many new movements for democracy around the world. And we’re just getting started.

How has this happened? By design, the underlying Internet and the WWW are non-hierarchical, decentralized and radically open. The web can be made to work with any type of information, on any device, with any software, in any language. You can link to any piece of information. You don’t need to ask for permission. What you create is limited only by your imagination.

So today is a day to celebrate. But it’s also an occasion to think, discuss—and do. Key decisions on the governance and future of the Internet are looming, and it’s vital for all of us to speak up for the web’s future. How can we ensure that the other 60 percent around the world who are not connected get online fast? How can we make sure that the web supports all languages and cultures, not just the dominant ones? How do we build consensus around open standards to link the coming Internet of Things? Will we allow others to package and restrict our online experience, or will we protect the magic of the open web and the power it gives us to say, discover, and create anything? How can we build systems of checks and balances to hold the groups that can spy on the net accountable to the public? These are some of my questions—what are yours?

On the 25th birthday of the web, I ask you to join in—to help us imagine and build the future standards for the web, and to press for every country to develop a digital bill of rights to advance a free and open web for everyone. Learn more at and speak up for the sort of web we really want with #web25.

Posted by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the World Wide Web

Web at 25 website

If you want to learn more about the Web at 25 I’d recommend you visit this website and watch the video below.

Greeting from Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee on the Web’s 25th anniversary from Web25 on Vimeo.

About Sue Beckingham

A National Teaching Fellow, Educational Developer and Principal Lecturer in Computing with a research interest in the use of social media in higher education.
This entry was posted in Social Media, Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Wonderful Web at 25

  1. socscicymru says:

    Super post. It is simply amazing that the web has become this phenomenal thing in such a short time. I thought the table was interesting. I think we forget, and for younger users have no way of remembering, that all this inter-connectedness is a recent phenomena. Twitter, where I first discovered the brilliant Sue Beckingham is only 8 years old! I was trying to work out how I might have made contact with all these people previously. In reality, it just would not have happened. So Happy Birthday Web, and thanks for an interesting and timely post.

  2. These figures are clearly showing Facebook as the top social media platform of registered and active users. Your social media statistics are pretty helpful for business concerns to increase the amount of customers and stay connected with people what is happening in your industry. Thumbs up for your post about statistics which is really not easy work.

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