06:23 AM

Preserving The (French) Web -- Revisiting Its Ideals

CERN, in Switzerland is known for its maniacal obsession with the Higgs boson but it's also where the "Web" was invented.

The Pallab Ghosh, science correspondent for the BBC reports:


A team at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) has launched a project to re-create the first web page. The aim is to preserve the original hardware and software associated with the birth of the web.

The world wide web was developed by Prof Sir Tim Berners-Lee while working at Cern. The initiative coincides with the 20th anniversary of the research centre giving the web to the world.

My friend David Galbraith managed to find the exact room at CERN where Sir Tim developed the first web protocols and web site. He says it is on the French side of the Swiss border, which would make the Web French by location.

Sir Tim had high hopes for the web:

The web is more a social creation than a technical one. I designed it for a social effect — to help people work together — and not as a technical toy. The ultimate goal of the Web is to support and improve our weblike existence in the world. We clump into families, associations, and companies. We develop trust across the miles…

The world can be seen as only connections, nothing else… A piece of information is really defined only by what it's related to, and how it's related. There really is little else to meaning. 

Sir Tim's ideals for the web are very egalitarian -- a fitting connection with France's revolutionary slogan of "Liberté, égalité, fraternité."

That's also a credo shared by software engineers in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, except they express it differently, they call it open-source software, where no part of the IP is beholden to anyone else but shared equally, and progress is shared too.

David Galbraith is pushing CERN to celebrate the Web's origins a bit further than just a web page.

Perhaps a computer scholarship could be created to fund the occupant of the room to do something that takes the spirit of the web further. Perhaps the original web server could be relocated to the room and it could be explored by mapping it on say Google Streetview, so that everyone could visit it. Further still, there are the rooms where the project for the web was developed, these are also historically important.

If you believe, like I do, that preserving the location of the invention of the web would be a good idea, make yourself heard. Tweet to @CERN with this url and the hashtag #savetheroom.

Save The Room!