A year of transformation: the web and the world

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Anniversary of the web

Today we mark a yearly celebration, that of the invention of the Web in March 1989 by our Director Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Tim Berners-Lee quote "the web is humanity connected by technogology"

A year into the pandemic, relying on the web

But also we mark a year into the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and global lockdowns.

The UN noted that Covid-19 has been a "human, economic and social crisis". We have seen incredible loss of life, disruption, worry and an increase in income inequality, the digital divide, and a disproportionate impact on working women.

In June 2020, Tim Berners-Lee wrote in the Guardian about the Covid-19 crisis:

“... the web has been the critical unifying force, [that enables] work, school, social activity and mutual support. Always intended as a platform for creativity and collaboration at a distance, it is great to see it also being used more than ever for compassion at a distance too”

We have all been tremendously reliant on the web during this year of crisis. According to the World Bank: "around the world, the pandemic and associated lockdowns are underscoring that digital connectivity is now a necessity. The internet is the gateway to many essential services, such as e-health platforms, digital cash transfers, and e-payment systems."

The web has provided a way for our world to adapt to the crisis. Online education, teleworking and remote medicine filled some of the void and according to that same World Bank post, more than a third of companies have increased the use of digital technology.

graph: From February to April 2020, there has been a sharp rise in total global traffic

Having in mind the welfare of everyone in our community, in February 2020 we suspended all work-related travel and and moved our work to the web.

W3C works at problems that are at the nexus of three axes: core technology, industry needs, and societal needs

The pandemic, the movement to remote work, other global challenges are causing a great change in how the web and W3C technologies are used by society. The Web Consortium continues to provide leadership for the future of the web. This includes both work that directly supports the move from physical to virtual (e.g., WebRTC is now a standard) as well as innovations that address the needs of a changing society, including issues in privacy and greater decentralization of the web, web payments, web performance, entertainment and media, Web accessibility.

Looking forward, we see societal needs growing and demanding more coordinated responses. Soon the next 50% of the world will join the web for education, commerce, information sharing, and entertainment. For these new entrants, the web must be safe, inclusive, international, and accessible.

In that same Guardian article, Tim ended with a call for everyone to work together to create a better future:

“History shows us that after all great global upheavals there are major attempts to repair the damage and rebuild, with some more successfully delivered than others. In the midst of this turmoil, we must surely strive to ensure some good emerges out of the darkness.
The web can and must be for everyone — now is our moment to make this happen.”

Happy birthday, Web; thank you, community!

We are proud that the work of the Web Consortium has been essential to the ways in which our world has met the challenge of the past year of crisis and in providing solutions for what will come next.

We are grateful to Tim for the web. We are grateful for our community. Together we can make a web that works for everyone - when we need it - and for a better future for all.

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