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30th Anniversary of the World Wide Web [video] (cern.ch)
296 points by ntarocco on Mar 12, 2019 | hide | past | web | favorite | 75 comments

The Balkanization of the WWW and the network effects that keep Google, Facebook and Microsoft entrenched are going to make the web a lot less fun in the coming years. I feel more and more like a lemon that will be squeezed either way, and it doesn't matter much to me whether I get bitten by the dog or by the cat. The other article on the HN home page hits quite hard at what the web has become vs what it could have become. Ever more closed protocols, ever more walled gardens, and more and more dirty plays to attempt to take over a portion of the remainder.

I am absolutely not sure what to do about any of this, it is almost as if there is a mutual exclusionary principle between a free and open communications network and the eventual success which will then doom that network to become non-free and non-open. Very frustrating all this.

> are going to make the web a lot less fun

are going to? It already has. I'm old enough to remember a time when the web wasn't considered a synonym for the Internet, when USENET was actually useful, gopher was a thing, and one could participate in online discourse without constantly walking on eggshells. I want the early 90s Internet back.

>I want the early 90s Internet back.

Here, here! Save for the whole part where we could only connect via dial-up out in Feckall, Nowhere. Could you imagine trying to download the latest Ubuntu ISO, for example, over dial-up?

Haha I've done exactly that because I was from Feckall, Nowhere, Canada.

It was nice when they started offering the CD/DVD copies for a donation (or free, if you were a poor kid from Feckall...)

There used to be so many fights over the phone line in those days... it shouldn't make me nostalgic but it does a little.

I blame phones. Without a desktop pc, people no longer run weird servers like Hotline. The internet is limited to whatever the cloud promotes. Reddit is not bad as usenet replacement, certainly better then the alternatives. We dont need to walk on eggshells if we re all a little less argumentative and stop attracting the wrong crowd - i think that point can be improved with our individual contributions. You re not going to get 90s back, no one will, but things aren’t too bad and the web is still more vibrant than all the walled garden asylums.

And then some things never change, like the group think of the tech community and its hype cycles

Today is your happy day: http://dmozlive.com/

Less fun than it is today. So even more less fun than it was some time ago...

I experience the opposite. For me the web is 100x better than it was in 2001.

Yea, that's probably true. Everything gets less fun as time goes on.

I've been using the web since '92 and as a piece of technology it's had a great run - but I do suspect that the more locked down and closed the web becomes (not to mention almost comically intrusive at times) that it will motivate someone to create a platform that could become a successor.

Most nations are developing increasingly sophisticated regulatory approaches for how the Internet is allowed to operate within their borders. There can be no successor as nearly every nation will have their own requirements, guaranteeing no successor can ever be flexible enough to fit all of them. A successor will end stillborn of hundreds of different regulatory demands: death by committee of 195 nations. Had the Internet originally been conceived in today's environment, with input from dozens of nations, each with their own self-interest at stake, it would have never survived and spread. The sole reason the Internet worked, is because it was initially built by a very small group (compared to the hands touching it today).

Instead what will happen, is haphazard forced customization of the existing Internet. They will beat and punch it into the shape they want it to be domestically. That approach will continue for a minimum of the next 20 to 30 years. Nothing can stop it. The adoption is too high, the investment is too high. Instead of ditching that epic macro investment, nations will bastardize what's already in place and bend it to their own socio-cultural needs or demands. China has already demonstrated how well that can work, how far you can go in molding it to whatever your demands are. If China can do that, others can mostly do what they want with it and will.

The Internet will hyper balkanize, just as most systems from one border to the next tend to (with some exceptions for agreements between large pools like the US & EU). There will never be a replacement system that goes global as the Internet did. It's a one-off - like first discovering a new piece of land nobody had explored before - as nations build frameworks (off their experience with the Internet) to regulate how any digital network can operate, which will make it impossible to smoothly launch a new global network to challenge the Internet. Every aspect of operating socially and commercially on the Internet will get more expensive on average, and especially if your attempt is to operate globally (locally there will be exceptions, countries with low regulatory hurdles and annoyances, but those will be overwhelmingly small nations like an Estonia, New Zealand or Switzerland etc). Internet regulation and control will soar on average, it'll become the compliance nightmare that everything else is that governments get their hands on. That will benefit anybody that gets out of the gate before the barriers get too steep; it will stagnate innovation in most cases and punish anybody that arrives later to the party. Nearly all systems regulated by governments evolve and exist in that mode of suffering, with few exceptions.

Note that I was thinking about a possible successor to the Web, not the Internet.

Ha! At the risk of sounding self-promotional, I have been motivated to do it back in 2011. Started a company to do just that. Never took VC. I think it was ahead of its time, but there was A LOT to build. Now it’s more needed than ever.


Met Tim Berners-Lee up at MIT two years ago about their solid.mit.edu project and tried to join forces. But ultimately they got funded and are working on their own thing.

I would love to get feedback on the above link.

I am working on a service that aims to fix the social disconnect created by Facebook et al and to redefine the idea of a social network within the context of bonding over particular interests.

If this piques your interest, let's chat over email and I can explain exactly what I mean. I think there is much hope for the future of the internet and that we've just hit a nasty pothole.


And what’s worse - many of them younger folk at work and otherwise don’t know any better. They were born after Windows 95 came out and by the time they were old enough to use the web, it was already ‘myspacified’ and on its way to where we are now. So really, in 5-10 more years, most people actually working on new internet tech won’t have experienced the excitement and thrill of ‘young’ and ‘uncorrupt’ web.

I put my faith in the young though. Something new will eventually come out. Which hopefully is more fulfilling than current status quo.

It looks like it might be balkanized into 2 camps: oWeb (oligopoly web) and dWeb (decentralized Web). Which one would you go for given the choice?

I'll take the d...

Thank you and for existing dear world wide web and happy birthday,Although I can't watch your birthday because my mere CPU can't handle the complexity of this website.

Thank you for adopting The Greatest language:JavaScript .I hope to achieve a certain level of fluency in Javascript that it becomes first language of my children.

Thank you for helping us reinvent operating systems and name them web browsers just to be able to render your standards and connect to you with our hearts, over http of course.

Thank you for enabling communications and freedom all around the world .Now I can ease my mind knowing that Google predicts when I die and would show adequate coffin ads to my family weeks before the incident.

Happy birthday.

Internet, you're not as free, wild and fun as you were 20 years ago, but I still love you.

How it's less free? It's easier than ever to publish something for free with knowledge that can be acquired for free and reach/collaborate with orders of magnitude more people.

I remember digging through HomeSite 4.0 help file to learn what HTML tags do.

I'm with you on this one. I don't think it's any more cordoned off than before (in general—not commenting on certain countries' practices here). Any use of those larger services is completely optional—though I do feel a tad let down when the only offering for some content is a FB page or video.

There is more high quality content online than there ever was—if you know how to look for it. There's also a lot more crap.

I gather the perspective on the internet/web might be very different for people who were introduced post-Google, post-Facebook, etc. For many people those are the introduction, unfortunately. I'm glad Google is featuring some bit of history there, but those large services seem to like to promote that you stay within their walls. In that way I can see the disappointment.

To quote Billy Bragg— "You've got to take the crunchy with the smooth, I suppose"

Surveillance everywhere, ads everywhere, automated armies of trolls/bots/astroturfers, censorship on the rise

I don't allow them to ruin any of my days :)

A deep and relatable reflection on all things.

35 years ago it was even more wild and fun!

Yesterday I couldn’t read an ancient Greek text on Project Gutenberg because I’m from Germany. Two days ago I couldn’t read an article on an US news site because I’m from Europe. The “WW” in “WWW” is a joke.

That's down to the EU forcing that site to protect your privacy, which that US site can't be bothered with. Nothing to do with the WWW as a technology.

Blame that US site and its advertisers for trying to harvest your data for advertisers.

You can’t really blame anyone. A person doesn’t want to give away his/her information, and site doesn’t want to give away its information for free. They simply don’t see eye to eye.

It's technically possible if you go to another country. And if you consider that it's also practically possible if you use a VPN, it's not really the fault of the web.

Crazy to think it is only 30 years old. In just thirty years it has spread to almost every corner of the world. The amount information stored in the web right now is so large that I can't even imagine it. And it will only continue to grow. I can't help but wonder what our world would look right now if it hadn't been invented.

30th anniversary of the open web and they send it on facebook :/

Hey, at least we know what that is, could be worse if it was internet.org ...

Relax, man. At least Facebook is not considered as too free where you live...

Revisit a scene from the great Halt and Catch Fire tv show, where a meeting is had that touches on a lot of points capturing the vibe and new world ahead back then. (minus some actual show drama) So good.


30 years and the WWW is about sending people to Facebook to watch a video :(

There are excellent texts and videos on math available now. I can go back to the stuff I sort of learnt in school and college and really dig into it. Just this week a learnt a couple of tricks in algebra I never heard of before.

My kids have this incredible tool I didn't have and they will have a better education because of it.

So there's something for everyone.

My thought exactly. It's sad to see that even CERN will tell you to move over into that walled garden, the worst of them all. I can't see it since all the FB-domains are blacklisted at my location.

I'm sure Zuckerberg is very proud of that.

Even if wanted to choose the other walled garden there is this:

>Please note that the Youtube recording has a time-lag on the soundtrack, so use our Facebook Live page instead for immediate access.

What? CERN can't upload a coherent video+audio stream?

> What? CERN can't upload a coherent video+audio stream?

I would actually like to see a good explanation of the validity/nonvalidity of this. If too many people watch this video, FB maybe has the best tech to handle the load.

Use MPEG-DASH and have CDN's deal with it...

This is CERN, the people who made the worlds largest particle accelerator and can do data aquisition at speeds that would make other's eyes water. I'm sure they could do this.

Now that you mention it, I remember reading about the crazy amount of data that CERN generates.

The crazy part is that they can't (no-one can or would want to try) store something like 95% of their data and have to run algorithms in realtime to decide what to keep and what to discard.

Twitch is somehow able to handle millions of viewers at a time, and Youtube has in the past. This is CERN laziness.

What's with the negative nitpicking? There are endless learning resources now available to people who couldn't afford an education, communities around anything you can imagine, people making a living thanks to the Internet, and the list goes on and on. Heck, I don't even have Facebook so I don't know what you're talking about.

In 1903, Andrew Carnegie dedicated a gorgeous public library to DC: https://www.google.com/maps/uv?hl=en&pb=!1s0x89b7b7928ca1dbd.... Today, it is being gutted and renovated as an Apple Store. That's basically what happened to the web. It's not so much that it's bad, it's just a disappointment.

I noticed that too. 30 years since the Web was invented, there are major problems due to centralization.

I remember before the Web there was AOL, MSN, Compuserve. The Web brought permissionless ownership and choice, and disrupted those centralized platforms. It unlocked trillions of dollars of value but enabled new platforms to appear, built on top of the Web: Google, Amazon, Facebook, which acquire other companies like YouTube. It is time for another open platform to come along and to do what the Web did to AOL.

But there are also bigger problems to solve. We just made a post about it:


Would be interested to hear your thoughts.

The endless September marches on.

For everyone congratulating the Internet here, when it says World Wide Web in the title, here is something to read:


I'm trying to think about how the web is different for a new user now vs 15 years ago.

I, as a consumer not an academic/student/employee, buy an internet access account from my local monopoly highspeed internet provider. I'm set up with my wifi router/modem and suddenly have a LAN that can connect to a huge variety of sites via the web. Note that the web isn't in any way distinguished from the internet. For most folks, the two have become synonymous.

I have 3 (imaginary) devices to use. A phone, a gaming console, and a PC. 2 of those devices are already using a walled-garden app store, leaving only the PC as something still sort of free. So I think there's a burden on Apple/Google, and Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo to put measures in place to increase freedom and decrease the negatives of the web.

Yet they don't control the main culprits of the problems that the web faces: Twitter, Facebook, and I would add news sites comments, and Reddit, here. Those web sites do have a huge responsibility for the problems that their users have added to the web.

Their hands-off attitude allows bad actors to fester and grow, pulling people in and further spreading their message to new sites. I don't see the problem being tackled anytime soon though.

At least Google's Android isn't a walled garden. You can just download and install APKs from random websites.

True. Android is closer to the PC vs Apple's iPhone being closer to a Mac. Not quite a perfect analogy, but it will be interesting to see how those 2 architecture decisions affect both platforms in 10 or 30 years time.

One design aspect of the original WWW browser that I find interesting is how all info regardless of source collapses to the same style. The absence of CSS with all default block level content. Hyperlinks may be a sub-optimal way of exploring a dense connected network of texts. But for academic paper sites like Arxiv and OpenReview there seems to be a standard schema evolving: paper, code, demo.

My sincere appreciation to the CERN's management team which decided to release 'Web software, without royalties or other constraints'.

& to the visionary people from Network Working Group, whose technologies grew the Network beyond the control of the Department of Defence (US); giving rise to the Internet.

Google's coverage of WWW is nice[1], this is the first time I see right click being blocked (for exhibit) on their site. There's no easy way to return from the exhibit without using back as well.


Just hold down Shift and you can use right click in Firefox.

Urgh. Two hours of Video and no summary. I wish I had two hours to watch it.

Here's an open letter about Tim's view on the dysfunction that affects the web today.


The BBC did an interview with him too

> after a good first 15 years, things had turned bad and a "mid-course correction" was needed.

He's optimistic such a correction will occur. I hope I'm that uncynical when I'm his age.

The first 30 minutes is an Introduction panel with the first 5 names in the Featured Speakers section.

Then there's a 30 minutes interview with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, where among other things he touches on Solid (https://solid.mit.edu/).

The last hour is a shared panel with the rest of the featured speakers on the impact of the Web on Human Rights, surveillance, privacy, etc.

Site took ages to load for me. For a moment I thought it was a clever statement about the state of websites in 2019, before realising it's probably being pounded with traffic.

Could we update the link to the https site?


I hope it won't be around to see it's 40th Anniversary...

Happy Birthday Internet!

Being nitpicky: WWW is not the same as Internet.

Yes, precisely... rather disappointing that HN users -- the very people you'd expect to know the difference between one protocol and "a set of them" would make this mistake - what hope is there for Joe Public :/

Tell that to my grandma and she still wouldn't believe you.

Hahah. my bad.

Happy Birth-day little sub-domain... Happy Birthday to you!

Being nitpicky: The www. subdomain is not required at all ;D

Indeed some browsers have decided to hide it from display completely, along with other pesky things like protocol, path, query and anchor

Google are already testing stuff in Chrome to remove the URI from the omnibox completely.

One of the many reasons I use firefox (with a separate search box)

Is it the 29th of October already? I could have sworn that it was March only yesterday. (-:

Happy Birthday internet, you gave us so much and there are many more crazy adventures in front of us

Yes hurrah for the internet! And I can’t wait until the next 30 years when we get to witness the birth of even more tedious crypto currencies with wackier names, I get to stress about my kids seeing Momo, and Facebook start tracking my bowel movements to know when I should next see a Domino’s ad.

Thanks Tim! (HTTP 417)

I hope you are being sarcastic.

While there are reasons to complain about the current state of the internet, it _is_ an achievement of mankind which has transformed the world in many ways.

Did you get the HTTP status code joke at the end? I was rather proud of that!

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