| 15°C Dublin

Internet is 25 years old – I thought it was just a fad

Close

British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web

British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web

British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web

The World Wide Web is 25 years old. I was amazed to hear this on Today with Sean O'Rourke (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 10am). Is it really that long since we first heard mention of this "internet" thing?

Of course, as stand-in Keelin Shanley's guest Damien Mulley explained, the web and internet are not the same thing.

The internet had been around for decades, linking academic and military computers; the web, created by Tim Berners-Lee, was a sort of framework placed onto the 'net so the rest of us could access the online world.

Back in the day – Ireland got its first ISP in 1992 – I assumed, like many people, that this would all prove to be a fad.

How wrong I was. The web is a literally world-changing phenomenon; a technological and sociocultural paradigm shift to be ranked up there with electricity or automobiles.

And the sheer size of the thing, the stats are mind-blowing. Thirty billion unique pages. Nine hundred and ten million servers. Trillions of pieces of content.

Even more mind-blowing is that what we know as "the internet" – i.e. the stuff you can search for on Google – is only the tip of a pretty murky iceberg.

Mulley also touched on the "deep web", AKA "dark web": down there, in the badlands of this digital Wild West, you can buy anything, say anything, share anything, and be almost completely untraceable.

Overall, though, I guess the web has been good for civilisation. Mulley called it "crib notes for humanity"; that sounds about right.

Bowman: Sunday (Radio 1, Sunday, 8.30am) is a nice idea and a nice little show. (I do mean "little"; it lasts less than 30 minutes, exactly the right length.)

The veteran broadcaster dips into the archives to tell a sort of "radio short story", generally on a cultural theme: recent programmes looked at Sean Potts, Charlie Chaplin, Pete Seeger, the National Gallery.

This week he marked the imminent retirement of Brian O'Driscoll by compiling interviews with the star himself, his parents, match commentaries and so on.

Hardly anyone knows Irish radio like Bowman; the breadth of his memory and familiarity is immense, and he remains the same unobtrusive but quietly commanding presence he was when grilling politicians on Questions & Answers.

DMCMANUS@INDEPENDENT.IE

Indo Review