Thirty years ago this week, the World Wide Web was born. Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer programmer, proposed an information management system that would allow people working around the world to collaborate on projects. Three decades later, Berners-Lee assesses his idea with equal parts wonder and disappointment. He remains committed to his concept, however, and has embarked on new initiatives to reclaim its promise. It is a fight we should support.
On March 12, 1989, Berners-Lee, then working for the European Particle Physics Laboratory (better known as CERN), wrote a memo that sketched an internet-based system that would facilitate the sharing of information among different computers. It would break down the silos — both technological and bureaucratic — that blocked conversations and collaboration. It eased technical constraints by distributing data and eliminating the need for single site repositories. His goal was simple: connecting people.