The World Wide Web, or global computer network, celebrates its 30th anniversary in March but the presence of false news and the influence of social networks have led its creator, Tim Berners-Lee, to launch a campaign to "save her." In 1989, Berners-Lee, a young physicist who worked at the CERN calculation center (a European nuclear research organization), near Geneva, imagined a "decentralized information management system", the first step towards the current web . Thirty years later, in which his office was, only a commemorative plaque and an excerpt from the CERN yearbook recalls that historical moment.
"Tim worked a lot, the light was always on in his office," François Flückiger explains to AFP, that after Berners-Lee left for the MIT Institute in the United States in 1994, he resumed the technical direction of the web at the CERN. Berners-Lee was in charge of the CERN internet yearbook but at the same time was looking for a system so that thousands of scientists around the world could share their research at a distance. «From the beginning the planetary dimension was present. We immediately had the feeling that history was being written ”, even though a superior said it was a“ vague ”project, Flückiger recalls.
In 1990, Belgian Robert Cailliau joined Berners-Lee to contribute to the promotion of his invention, based on the HTML language (which allows creating web pages), the HTTP hypertext exchange protocol (which allows users to request and then receive a web page) and URLs. In the late 1990s, Berners-Lee launched the first server and web browser of CERN. Since then, this network has allowed "a huge amount of human activities to thrive," says Ian Milligan, a professor who specializes in studying the archives of the University of Waterloo website in Canada.
«An uncontrolled monster»
Flückiger, now retired, believes that the web is one of the three great inventions of the twentieth century that make up the digital society, along with IP technology and Google's search algorithms. But with "digital harassment, the 'fake news', the hysterization of the masses (…) one wonders if we have not finally created an uncontrolled monster," he says, lamented the display of private life on the web and the predominance of "beliefs" over "knowledge."
According to Niels Brügger, director of the Center for Internet Studies in Denmark, it is normal that "once a technology is made available to users they begin to modify it and develop it to respond to new needs."
In January, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, requested a regulation of the web at the World Economic Forum in Davos and regretted that some countries use it to violate human rights.
Tim Berners-Lee himself has launched a campaign to "save the web" and calls for the creation in 2019 of a "Contract for the Web" based on access for everyone and respecting privacy. "The web has been corrupted by scammers and trolls," Berners-Lee wrote in an article in the 'New York Times' on December 6.
In 1993, CERN made the web program publicly available, which allowed everyone to use it freely.
A year later, Flückiger decided, however, to launch a new version of the program, in "open source". Thus CERN retained the copyright but gave each one the right to use it and modify it freely and without costs.