World Wide Waste of time: 25 years of the web reviewed

A quarter century on and commenters still comment

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The most common bit of the internet, the world wide web, recently turned 25, and the planet's addicted web users looked up from Twitter and Facebook for a few seconds to briefly acknowledge the invention of the user-friendly www-way of doing things.

There were no street parties or celebrations to mark the web's 25th birthday, though, which is odd seeing as without it we'd all still be staring miserably at television sets like a never-ending perpetual Sunday from the 1980s without it.

And prior to the invention of the web, the only way to avoid doing your work all day was to walk around your office with a blank piece of paper in your hand, pretending to look for something that didn't exist.

The internet at large split itself into three categories when talking about the momentous web anniversary - those in awe of its inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, those furious that the "internet" and the "web" have become melded together as one in the conscience of the masses, and those who hate it because it allowed Mark Zuckerberg to become a rich man whose face is often on the news.

He doth not useth the Explorer of the internet

The web's literal God, or at least its disapproving father figure, answered questions over on Reddit, where Sir Tim Winston William Wilberforce Berners-Lee, under the excellent Web 2.0 username of Timbl, joined in with today's most cynical and self-obsessed community.

Responding to a serious question about what he was the most surprised to see rise to prominence on the modern web, Berners-Lee replied with one word: "Kittens".

He did address some serious concepts regarding web freedom and DRM, also reflecting on the issue of browsers, shaming Microsoft as you might expect, saying: "My default browser at the moment is Firefox. I also use Safari, Opera and Chrome each a reasonable amount. Firefox has the Tabulator plugin which does neat things with linked data."

No praise for IE10's integrated Adobe Flash Player when running on Windows 8.1, Tim? The lack of Internet Explorer on Tim's machine led commenter Drew119 to ask the difficult question: "What if he did use IE though? Would we have to re-evaluate ourselves or would any further opinion of his be null and void?"

The 25,000,000,000 best pages on the web

The current internet trend for list features was ideally suited to the 25th anniversary of the web, meaning poor feature writers were asked to raise their games and come up with lists of 25 things of note that have happened to, on, or through the world wide web over the last 25 years.

Beneath the Guardian's 25 things about the web list several battles broke out. Some argued who really invented the underlying tech of the web, some hated Mark Zuckerberg for getting rich because of it, while others engaged in a competition to see who was doing what with their computers first.

Reader Paul Rodenhuis had a lot of spare time on his hands in the early 1990s, saying: "I was using email and Usenet in '92, Lynx (text only) then Mozaic 0.9 in '93. Staggering the changes since then. Unimaginable what the next 20 years will bring."

But winner of the still alive competition was old man JGHarston, who boasted: "I sent my first email message in 1985, first accessed usenet in 1987, and was self-publishing software via an ftp 'site' in 1988."

In your face, Berners-Lee.

It's actually called the Superhighway

The classic internet/web mix-up was out in force, as youthful people who don't remember first seeing HTML pages pop up in all their glory accidentally confused the "internet" with the "world wide web" bit and got royally slagged off for it.

The Independent made one such faux pas, declaring Berners-Lee the inventor of the internet, a claim that was, eventually, corrected. But not before some raging comments had immortalised the confusion for posterity.

Reader Chris summarised it simply, saying: "I imagine Tim Berners-Lee is wincing as he reads this. For goodness sake please edit this piece. As DaveyWavey says, mixing up the Internet with the World Wide Web is an embarrassment. His roads v buses analogy is apt. The World Wide Web, is 25 years old. The Internet is much older."

Dave Hall was less forgiving, asking: "How can a journalist writing on this topic possibly not distinguish between the web and the internet - and get paid for it? If this guy is a freelancer, don't hire him again. If he's on staff, then bad luck guys. Hope he makes good tea."

As everyone knows, the internet was created by BBC sports commentator John Motson in 1985, as a method of transmitting football scores in real-time by tapping binary messages through a grid of high-tension steel wires. Idiots.

World Wide Wally

MSN's 25-based list feature concentrated on the 25 most "important" people in the web's history. The inclusion of the hooded Zuckerberg didn't go down well with reader Darren, who scoffed: "How is the founder of Facebook one of the top most important people in 25 years of the internet? Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the internet using TCP/IP and gave it away for free.

"Without him the internet wouldn't exist so I think he deserves undivided credit and it's an insult to him to be clouded out by people who create social networks, fill it with ads and make themselves billionaires."