Dear Sir Tim Berners-Lee,
As the father of the World Wide Web, we think you deserve a Father’s Day message. After all, anyone who’s ever clicked a link, typed those three famous W’s, or even just seen a video on a friend’s screen is, in some way, your child. This, therefore, is a tribute to you, your web and everything we’ve managed to achieve with it.
We’ve come a long way since that fateful day when you implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the internet. That was way back in 1990 and what you were doing was on the cutting edge of experimental.
Since then, you’ve been knighted. That was possibly cooler than any of the Beatles getting honours from the Queen. At any rate, it was a more worthwhile knighthood than any of the ones handed out to British civil servants every year. We access the web at lightning-fast speeds and your beloved child has grown far beyond the bounds of its original vision.
That vision was for “a pool of human knowledge, and human culture, which would allow collaborators in remote sites to share their ideas and all aspects of a common project.”
When used properly, the web is all that and much more. On its pages, we do our banking, buy flowers, learn about the Jedi and, most humanly of all, fall in love.
You know all that already though, you’ve remained a force on the web, overseeing its growth and development through the World Wide Web Consortium(WC3) and making sure of its increasing availability through the World Wide Web Foundation. You’ve been one of the more attentive fathers in our technological age, even with a child that grows exponentially every year.
You can’t have imagined that kind of growth 21 years ago, can you? Granted, the growth hasn’t been perfect. Some of us have hidden in dusty corners of the web, corrupting it, sullying its vision. I’m not talking about the pages and pages of LOLcats or even Farmville. I’m talking about people who’ve used your beloved project to spread child pornography, to spew forth messages of hate and to misinform. We must all accept some level of responsibility for these deeds.
That’s enough penance for now though. This is supposed to be a celebration of you. At this point in a Fathers’ Day letter, it usual for the child to thank the parent for everything the parent has given them in particular. I can’t pretend to speak with any authority for the more than two billion people capable of accessing the web. So I won’t.
Instead, Sir Berners-Lee, I will use this part of the message to list all the things I am thankful to your brainchild for.
Without the web, I wouldn’t have a job. Okay, a lot of us wouldn’t. I’m really grateful for mine though, especially as I get to spend large portions of day actually writing stories about the latest developments on the web. These stories then get put up on the web, where they’re read by people all over the world. So, much as my employers might get squeamish at me saying this, thanks for the job Sir.
I’ve used various pages on the web to prove myself right in arguments. I’m not sure how much that falls into the whole sharing ideas for a common project thing, but thanks anyway. Of course, I can only win those arguments because the web has centralised knowledge farm more effectively than any library we’re even capable of imagining.
Most importantly, thank you for the laughs. Facebook status fails, quirky webcomics and comedy list sites — none of them would exist without the web.
Look, all that serious stuff I talked about earlier is really amazing but let’s be honest it isn’t what most of think of when someone mentions the web. We think of the fun we can have on it, or the friends we’ve reconnected with, or even made.
That original “pool of human knowledge, and human culture, which would allow collaborators in remote sites to share their ideas and all aspects of a common project,” you dreamed of probably needs a little tweaking.
You see, Sir Tim, your children have taken the web and run with it, to the extent that it is fast becoming: a pool for all of human knowledge, and all human culture, which allows collaborators everywhere their ideas and all aspects of the ultimate common project, humanity itself.”
Happy Father’s Day, Sir Tim and thank you. Two-billion times over, thank you.