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The World Wide Web is twenty five years old


​If the World Wide Web had a Nigerian mum, she would probably start talking about marriage any moment from now. “I mean you are twenty five years old and you are not getting any younger” she would say. The World Wide Web may probably never find time to settle down but it has racked up a decent number of accomplishments over the past quarter of a century. 

Before we continue there are two things we need to get straight; 

(1) The World Wide Web aka www, aka web is not the same as the internet. The internet predates the World Wide Web (1969 to be precise) and can be seen as the road network while the World Wide Web is like Uber. So the World Wide Web runs on the internet, there are other services that run on the internet, like emails etc. and the web is one of them.

(2) There is some debate as to the actual date of birth of this thing called the web. August 23, 1991 was the day the web was released to the public. There are other notable dates and as such other birthdays depending on who is celebrating. Don’t you envy the web? 

In the year 1980 Tim Berners-Lee (British researcher working in Switzerland) who invented the web, created a personal data base of people and software models at CERN. In 1989 he proposed the idea of a universal linked information system, in 1990, he built the HyperText Transfer Protocol, HTTP for short, HyperText Markup Language HTML and Uniform Resource Locator URL, the first web browser and server and the first web pages. August 23, 1991, the web was open to users outside of CERN.

The web obviously was not born in one day, the problem is people think it should. The World Wide Web Foundation helps this point by stating that “we celebrate the web every day.”

What has the web done for us? The more pertinent question is, what has the web not done for us? The web made a lot of promises, like every new technology, the web still holds many of those promises but has managed to fulfil a sizable number of them.

It has had an impact on us so profound that we can barely begin to wrap our heads around it. It has toppled industries and made new ones rise. It has created vast wealth for some entrepreneurs. The internet has put in our hands the power to create and share content. It has provided a platform for groups to organise in pursuit of their goal.

For the 3.4 billion people with access to the 1.07 billion websites on the web containing a total of 4.73 billion pages from a very humble beginning to just a few hundred pages, the web has indeed come a long way. It has had its own share of vices, from child pornography, to hackers, to online theft and cyber bullying, the World Wide Web like many of us has tried to come out strong.

For Africa as a continent and Nigeria specifically, the web puts us at par with the rest of the world, it offers us a chance to stay connected, learn and exchange ideas with the rest of the world. It is hard to imagine what a world without the World Wide Web looks like, yet some people in the country make up part of the 3.6 billion people that do not have access to the web.

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