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21 random but totally appropriate ways to celebrate the World Wide Web’s 30th birthday

21 random but totally appropriate ways to celebrate the World Wide Web’s 30th birthday
[Photo: Amy Shamblen/Unsplash]

Thirty years ago, computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented what we now know as the World Wide Web. Sure, there were earlier networks: ARPANET, or the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense back in the 1960s. Then in the 1970s scientists Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf developed Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol, or TCP/IP, which let data move between multiple networks, and eventually become the modern internet.

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But the online world took on its most recognizable form in March 1989, thanks to Berners-Lee, then a fellow at Cern, the famed physics research laboratory. He sent his boss an idea: Information Management: A Proposal. It laid out a plan for people to share information across an interconnected mesh of servers and data architecture, an idea his boss deemed “vague but exciting,” according to The Guardian, but Berners-Lee ran with it, writing code, and eventually unveiled his vision of the World Wide Web. The rest, as they say, is history.

Here are a few ways to celebrate the internet’s birthday:

1. Spend some time at the Museum of Endangered Sounds reminiscing over AIM login noises, early Mac startup sounds, and the sweet drone of dialup modems.

2. The World Wide Web Foundation has a full slate of festivities planned, beginning with a speaker lineup featuring Berners-Lee at the CERN lab.

3. Try to remember your GeoCities password.

4. Listen to “Surfing on the Web” by Les Horribles Cernettes:

5. Buy AOL free trial disks on eBay.

6. Explore the Internet Archive and the Wayback Machine.

7. Help refugees, migrants, and people in disaster relief and humanitarian crises access the internet with Disaster Tech Lab.

8. Use the hashtags #Web30 and #ForTheWeb on Twitter to contribute to the World Wide Web Foundation’s crowdsourced timeline of the internet.

9. Watch You’ve Got Mail while snuggled up to your laptop.

10. Remember that internet access is considered a human right.

11. Tell your grandkids about LAN Parties and the origins of multiplayer gaming and the thrill of Pathway to Darkness.

12. Petition for the return of Apple’s eWorld.

13. Add Duran Duran’s “Electric Barbarella” to your playlist because it was the internet’s first-ever digital single.

14. Ask Jeeves (or Altavista, Hotbot, Lycos, DogPile, or Web Crawler)

15. Scroll this visual history of the internet’s major milestones.

16. Petition your member of Congress for a return to net neutrality.

17. Explore how the internet is different in China, Russia, and Cuba.

18. Shove a slice of birthday cake into your CD-Rom drive.

19. Reminisce about your favorite USENET news groups.

20. Check out the Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre in Lagos, Nigeria, and Rosemary Leith, cofounder of the World Wide Web Foundation, for an event focused on female technology creators and solving social challenges.

21. Check out CERN’s rebuilt original WorldWideWeb browser developed on an Apple NeXT computer in 1990 and try to imagine an internet without Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, algorithms recommending things to you, and pop-up ads following you everywhere.

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