Tech & The Web

World Wide Web Creator Says It Isn’t ‘Web We Wanted’

World Wide Web Creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee called for an effort to turn his brainchild into the kind of web the world really needs.

Imagine this: if you were the world wide web creator and you were looking at your accomplishment on its 30th birthday, what would run through your mind?

For Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited with the creation in 1989, it’s not what it could be. Berners-Lee told the European Organization for Nuclear Research that the web’s growing pains include issues like hate speech, privacy concerns and state-sponsored hacking.

No human endeavor is perfect, of course. But some are more imperfect than others.

Every year, Berners-Lee publishes an open letter on his vision for the future of the web, The Guardian reports. For the 30th anniversary edition, he wrote this:

“While the web has created opportunity, given marginalized groups a voice and made our daily lives easier.” … “It has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred and made all kinds of crime easier to commit.”

It’s unquestionably a good thing that the internet has given people who have historically lacked a voice the chance to be heard.

But what I see is a decent-sized chunk of that group, along with too large a chunk of those who previously did have a voice on other platforms, to spew the aforementioned hatred. It’s a shame that people can’t be more responsible with the opportunities they are given. It makes one wonder if we were better off, when it comes to self-expression, when some people didn’t have that easy chance to express some of their thoughts.

Our society has become so outrageously rude these days and everyone is looking for someone to blame for something at every opportunity. The voice the internet provides them, it seems, only makes them angrier and more determined to play victim or take offense to something without proposing any kind of solution to whatever problem they’re complaining about.

That’s not public discourse.

That’s not problem solving.

All that accomplishes is increase the already-elevated hostilities. It must feel good to those doing it in the moment. But wouldn’t it be nice if they could at least occasionally reflect upon their actions and try to make amends?

I guess that’s too much to ask.

There are times when I think people should have to pass some test to be able to get online. Maybe they should have to prove somehow that they won’t believe everything they read. Or maybe they should have to demonstrate that they do, in fact, know how to fact-check. And, once proven, maybe they should take an oath to actually do so before spreading false information (while simultaneously accusing everyone else of spreading “fake news”).

Yeah. That’d be nice.

No, the web isn’t what the world might have hoped for. It has done some amazing things in terms of making information available for so many.

But it could do so much more.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.