The World Wide Web

Firstly, we must distinguish between the Internet and The World Wide Web.

The Internet was envisioned as a means of allowing Universities and Research Establishments to exchange information quickly. It was seen as a method to allow one computer to exchange text information with another computer at a different location.

The creation of the World Wide Web was the single factor which made the Internet what it has become today. It was not created by teams of experts and endless committees but by the genius of one man - Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Berners-Lee is a scientist who was working at CERN at the time that he had the idea of creating the system of connecting pages on the Internet using Hypertext Links which he called the World Wide Web.

As with so many of the world's great inventions, most people think that the Internet and World Wide Web are entirely American creations. Very few people know that the backbone of the Internet - Packet Switching technology - was largely developed just a few miles up-river from us at the National Physics Laboratory in Teddington. If you ask most Americans, "who invented the Web?", they will say "we did" or "that American, Berners-Lee". Well, that "American" happens to be English.

Apart from his genius, the thing that sets Sir Tim Berners-Lee apart from most men is the fact that he had the foresight and strength of character to give his creation to the world rather than patent it for his own enrichment. His selfless generosity transformed the way our world operates. Since then, a great deal of his time has been spent in trying to prevent big business from dominating and taking control of the Web. It is a pity that there are not more men with the vision of Sir Tim Berners-Lee. If there were, we would have a far better world and far fewer megalomaniacal billionaires.

In the early days of the Web, the major browser was Netscape Navigator which had its own interpretation of how browsers should display HTML code. At that time, Bill Gates of Microsoft had not appreciated the significance of the Internet and was slow to bring out Internet Explorer. As is its way, Microsoft has used its market dominance to swamp competitive browsers and thus reduce them to a lesser level of importance - indeed, bordering on extinction. This is a striking example of how certain elements wish to exert dominance and control.

It is our fervent hope that "Big Business" and other vested interests are kept from turning the web into another method of squeezing money out of people while censoring their information. The Internet always was intended to be a source of free information available to all and it must remain that way! Unfortunately, there are those who hate the thought of everyone having unlimited access to free information and the right to broadcast their opinions to the world. It is up to us to protect the Internet from those who would suppress it.

The WebCentre will continue to fight for people's right to read what they want, think what they want and say what they want.

If you lose those rights, then you have no rights.