The World Wide Web Turns 30. Here’s A Look At How We Use It Today.

“Vague but exciting.”

This was how Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s boss responded when the 33-year-old British physicist submitted his proposal for a decentralized system of information management on March 12, 1989.

Former physicist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World-Wide Web as an essential tool for High Energy Physics (HEP) at CERN from 1989 to 1994. Together with a small team he conceived HTML, http, URLs, and put up the first server and the first wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) browser and html editor. (Photo: CERN)

This day 30 years ago signaled the birth of the World Wide Web, ushering in the information age and revolutionizing life as we know it.

“There are very few innovations that have truly changed everything. The Web is the most impactful innovation of our time.” — Jeff Jaffe, CEO of the World Wide Web Consortium.

Today there are over 4.4 billion internet users worldwide, growing at a rate of more than 11 new users per second. Internet user growth has accelerated in the past year, with more than 366 million new users coming online since January 2018.

The ways in which people use the internet are evolving quickly too. Most people aren’t looking searching for information on the web on a desktop or laptop anymore. They are looking at it on a phone or tablet.

Increasingly, people are using voice search on their smartphones, tablets or voice assistants (like the Amazon Echo or Google Home devices).

According to comScore’s forecasting, 50 percent of searches will be performed through voice functions in 2020 and the majority will be done without even looking at a screen.

On average, the world’s internet users spend 6 hours and 42 minutes online each day.

So what are the world’s 4.4 billion internet users actually doing online for those 6½ hours each day?

As you might expect, Google continues to dominate the rankings of the world’s most visited websites. Every 60 seconds 3.8 million Google searches are performed.

Video marketing can help you tell your story in a more entertaining, educational and inspiring way so if it’s not already part of your strategy, get on board with video this coming year.

With over 100+ million unique users every month, Amazon-owned Twitch is set to be a huge growth platform in the coming year — and not just for gamers. The channel IRL (In Real Life) has people live streaming everyday things from painting to playing music.

There are now more people using the top four social messaging apps (WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, and Viber) than the top four social media apps (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn).

Despite declining trust and recent data which shows that Facebook’s growth has stalled, at least in the North American and European markets, it still continues to be the most popular social media activity online.

When it comes to consistent engagement, Instagram is the number one social channel out there. A study done by Yopto found the engagement rate on Instagram to be 45% greater than on Facebook and 40% greater than Twitter.

Snapchat, while it may not be growing at the rate it once was, remains highly influential for teens.

While the invention of the world wide web has changed our world in many positive ways, there is a dark side that has recently emerged.

In an open letter to mark the anniversary, Berner Lee questioned what it has become on the 30th anniversary of its creation, noting democracy and privacy were now under serious threat.

This echoes a sentiment expressed by Thomas L. Friedman, author of Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations, who points to “a mismatch between the change in the pace of change and our ability to develop the learning systems, training systems, management systems, social safety nets, and government regulations that would enable citizens to get the most out of these accelerations and cushion their worst impacts.”

Berner Lee believes it’s not too late to straighten the ship’s course.

“If we give up on building a better web now, then the web will not have failed us. We will have failed the web,” he wrote. “It’s our journey from digital adolescence to a more mature, responsible and inclusive future.”

Friedman, the optimist agrees.

“I am going to bet on the basic decency that is still at the core of this community. I am going to bet on that decency expanding to embrace the people it has left out and behind, and on that embrace being reciprocated. Not because anything is “inevitable” but because I met too many people applying hope.”

Social Media Consultant. Keynote Speaker. Digital Storyteller.

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