It has been 29 years to the day since Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the internet and on this anniversary the inventor has expressed his thoughts and concerns regarding his creation.
While Berners-Lee mentions that this year marks the first point in the history of the service where half of the world’s population will be online he also has concerns.
Chief amongst those concerns is the amount of misinformation and questionable political advertising currently occupying the halls of the internet.
The creator says that the web of today is very different from what he created. Today there are dominant forces online that stifle competition.
“What was once a rich selection of blogs and websites has been compressed under the powerful weight of a few dominant platforms. This concentration of power creates a new set of gatekeepers, allowing a handful of platforms to control which ideas and opinions are seen and shared,” wrote Berners-Lee.
The inventor goes on to say that these so-called gatekeepers buy up innovations and talent in a bid to lock their position on the web. They also decide what content is and isn’t allowed on the web. He’s not wrong it’s become almost common to hear about Alphabet’s latest acquisition or hear how a domain host has barred some people from hosting websites on its services.
A generation that won’t know the internet
Berners-Lee also touched on the digital divide mentioning how important, nay, vital, the internet has become in the global economy.
“To be offline today is to be excluded from opportunities to learn and earn, to access valuable services, and to participate in democratic debate,” says Berners-Lee.
At the current rate the internet inventor says that the last billion will only be connected to the internet by 2042.
“We must support policies and business models that expand access to the world’s poorest through public access solutions, such as community networks and public WiFi initiatives. We must invest in securing reliable access for women and girls, and empowering them through digital skills training,” adds the inventor.
The time has come for a change to how the internet operates says Berners-Lee. Advertising isn’t and shouldn’t be the only way for people to make money online.
He likens the problems with the web today to bugs saying that they can be fixed.
“Today, I want to challenge us all to have greater ambitions for the web. I want the web to reflect our hopes and fulfil our dreams, rather than magnify our fears and deepen our divisions,” writes Berners-Lee.
“Let’s assemble the brightest minds from business, technology, government, civil society, the arts and academia to tackle the threats to the web’s future.”
[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]