Rewriting World Wide Web History
The 20th anniversary of the public announcement of the Web passed this weekend. I’ve seen two mentions of it in the press so far, both of which got some basic facts very very wrong. And both were from authors at technically-oriented sites where writers and editors alike would presumably know better.
The first, at TechCrunch, announced the 20th anniversary of the Internet. The title was changed after readers complained. But the URL for the article still has it wrong.
The second, at Wired, claims that the first webpage was published on August 6, 1991, and misleadingly cites CERN about the location of the page. Of course, that page was in operation for some months before the project was announced on USENET. That announcement, in my view, should be upheld as the key threshoid event for the Web. Berners-Lee, on the other hand, prefers to commemorate late December 1990, when his code began to run.
It’s lamentable that so few people even bothered to recall this significant date. August 6th 2011 was also the 46th anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb, and that got some deserved attention. But most media observers (and Google’s Doodle) were consumed by recalling the 100th anniversary of Lucille Ball’s birth. She was undeniably a great talent and performer, but which of these events will ultimately prove to have a greater impact on our lives over the coming days, years, and centuries?