The year 2023 marks the thirty-second anniversary of the World Wide Web being announced. In the intervening years, the web has become an essential part of the fabric of society. Part of that is that huge amounts of information that used to be available (only) on paper is now available (only) electronically. One of the dangers of this is that owners of information often treat the data as ephemeral, and delete old information once it becomes out of date. As a result society is at risk of losing large parts of its history. So it is time to assess how we use the web, how it has been designed, and what we should do to ensure that in one hundred years time (and beyond) we will still be able to access, and read, what we are now producing. We can still read 100 year-old books; that should not be any different for the web. This paper takes a historical view of the web, and discusses the web from its early days: why it was successful compared with other similar systems emerging at the time, the things it did right, the mistakes that were made, and how it has developed to the web we know today, to what extent it meets the requirements needed for such an essential part of society's infrastructure, and what still needs to be done.

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International World Wide Web Conference
Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, Amsterdam (CWI), The Netherlands

Pemberton, S. (2023). The one hundred year web. In Companion of the World Wide Web Conference (pp. 642–647). doi:10.1145/3543873.3585578