Happy Birthday wwwAccording to an article in Nature News yesterday, 6 August was the 20th anniversary of when the first website went live in 1991. It was at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, on the France-Switzerland border near Geneva, better known as CERN [Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire]. Tim Berners-Lee and colleagues took the idea of ‘hypertext’ – a word coined by Ted Nelson – and turned it in to HTML [hypertext mark-up language], the computer language behind this and other websites [see ‘View/Source’ in the Internet Explorer browser, or equivalent in others]. The original purpose was as “an information management system which would allow people at different sites to share their ideas and all aspects of a project.” Over 20 years, “a project” has become “just about anything”, both good and bad. In some of the world’s cultures, a 21st birthday is marked as a milestone indicating ‘maturity’. In a year’s time, I doubt if the World Wide Web will show any signs of physical growth diminishing to zero, or ‘growing up and settling down’ in a sense of social responsibility. But who would want to be without it now?