The (Not So) World Wide Web

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The World Wide Web recently celebrated a milestone—30 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist unwittingly made history by laying the groundwork of what would later become known as the World Wide Web. While working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) at the time, he distributed a paper to his colleagues titled “Information Management: A Proposal,” in which he suggested creating a networked hypertext system to help CERN manage and share information within its organization.

Despite its name and apparent ubiquity, however, 30 years after its birth hour the World Wide Web is not nearly as universally available as its name suggests, according to this infographic from Statista.com. According to the latest estimates by the International Telecommunication Union, a UN agency specializing in information and communication technologies, only 51 in 100 world citizens used the internet in 2018.

While internet access in regions such as North America and Europe has become a commodity not unlike electricity and running water, people in less developed regions often still lack access to what has arguably become the most important source of information of our times. This is reflected in the fact that internet penetration ranges from 81 percent across developed countries to 45 percent in developing countries and less than 20 percent in the least developed countries in the world.