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World Wide Web Turns 25 But What Will It Look Like at 30? - See more at: http://blogs.aberdeen.com/communications/world-wide-web-turns-25-but-what-wil
Jim Rapoza, Aberdeen Group
AUG 22, 2014 01:41 AM
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As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web, let’s take a little bit of time to look back at the history of this transformative technology and also look forward to what the next few years hold in store for the web.

Back in 1989, a researcher at the CERN labs in Switzerland was looking for a way to use the Internet to more effectively collaborate. Yes, despite the confusion of some (“didn’t we already celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Internet years ago?”) the Web and the Internet are not the same thing, the Web runs on top of the Internet. Think of the Internet as an operating system and the Web as the main application we use on it.

Quickly after Sir Tim created the Web (which went public in 1991, which can also be considered the birth of the web), it began to radically change business, people and the world, some for the better (hello ecommerce and social connectivity) and for the worse (good bye book stores and newspapers). During all of the time since it was created, Berners-Lee has been trying to shepherd and guide the direction the web takes through his stewardship of the World Wide Web Consortium, which defines the key protocols (HTML, HTTP, XML, etc.) that the Web runs on.

Over the years I’ve been able to speak with Berners-Lee several times, including a long interview we did over the rise of semantic web technology. During those discussions, it was easy to see how important it was to him that the Web remain an open and free place where any discussion can take place, technologies can grow and where the level playing field makes it possible for the next Facebook or Google to easily rise to take on the big players.

And for the most, he’s been very successful. However, in the next few years, the Web will face several challenges that could curtail its growth and limit its openness.

For one, there’s the rise of mobile applications. While most mobile apps use elements of Web technology (such as XML and JavaScript), they aren’t truly of the Web. And mobile apps have more of a walled garden element to them than traditional web sites and applications. As more people replace web sites with mobile apps, the reach of the Web itself could start to shrink.

Another major threat is the setbacks that the Net Neutrality movement has seen recently. If large broadband providers are able to pick and choose which sites perform well, or are even accessible, than the openness of the Web itself will be increasingly threatened.

The next five years should be key for the future of the Web. And not all is doom and gloom. HTML 5 offers an excellent mobile experience and as users continue to fall victim to “app fatigue”, mobile web applications could begin to regain their appeal. And regular users and other businesses will continue to push back against threats to Net Neutrality.

So happy birthday World Wide Web, and hope you have many more.

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