By Laura Haight
The world wide web turns 25 today. Woo-Hoo. The web was born when Tim Berners-Lee, a Brit working for CERN, developed a proposal for the language, structure and design of its informational structure. A year later, Berners-Lee released the code for the first web browser and the world has never looked back.
Although we use the terms internet and World Wide Web interchangeably, they are not the same thing. The internet is a network for networks to sit on - a physical community. The World Wide Web is the population, the information, the conversation. In deference to it's birthday, I'm going to try and make sure not to keep these straight and capitalize WWW, which Berners-Lee points out, is the correct way to present it.
I'm not sure how you're celebrating this big day, but here are some fun facts gleaned from - you guessed it - around the internet that you can toss around at the birthday party.
1. Weighty information travels the web every minute. But the web itself is light as a feather - or more accurately, a strawberry. The World Wide Web is really an array of nomadic electrons constantly moving, stopping just occasionally for directions. Physicist Russell Seitz crunched the numbers and determined that cyberspace weighs roughly 2 ounces - or equivalent to a nice juicy strawberry. Of course, this was released in 2006, so the www might have gained a bit since then. Haven't we all?
2. Still complaining about your email? No kidding, you may have good reason to. According to Intel, one minute on the internet is all it takes to send 204 million emails! Whoa. What else happens in an internet minute? Amazon racks up a cool $83K in sales, 20 million photos are viewed online while another 3,000 are uploaded to Flickr, and 1.3 million YouTube videos are viewed (1 million of those of cats!). What surprised you most in that paragraph? See the full story.
3. Has the internet taken the place of our memories? Are we mentally lazier or intellectually stronger because every single piece of information possible to ask is just a few thumb-strokes away? We'll probably debate that for decades. But there is no doubt that the phrase "wrack our brains" may fall out of common usage in the not-too-distant future. Every day in 2013, 5.92 billion Google searches were performed. That's 2.16 trillion searches a year. It is also a number that more than doubled since 2009 - most likely due to the explosion of mobile devices. More stats.
4. When Berners-Lee looks at his "invention" what does he see? What are his hopes and dreams? On an FAQ page that he maintains, he addresses a lot of questions. It's a page he keeps updated as a way of heading off the inevitable speaking and interview requests. Here are two key notes from the web's inventor:
"I am very happy at the incredible richness of material on the Web... There are many parts of the original dream which are not yet implemented."
"We should all learn to be information smart: to understand when a web site or piece of software .. is giving us biased information. We should learn to distinguish quality information and quality links. As technology evolves and machine-understandable information on the Web becomes available, we should be aware of the sudden changes which large-scale machine processing might have on our business."