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By 12 March 2014 | Categories: news

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If you are older than 25, then you may still have enough years under your belt (if not necessarily bags under your eyes), to remember a world prior to the internet.

For everyone else though, it may be difficult to imagine that there ever was a period where updating Facebook, browsing the web, Googling an unknown term, or indeed, as we do, feeding our website and lovingly, sometimes obsessively, watching it grow, was little more than a fantasy.

Today though marks the ubiquitous internet’s  25th birthday – a quarter of a century in which the world wide web has managed to inform, connect and yes, raise its fair share of controversy.

From infancy to adulthood

Admittedly, the internet has grown up considerably over the years. Who can forget the terrible twos, the internet’s diaper days of dialup, as it screeched and spat sound at you in the early hours of the morning (when dial up call rates were cheaper)? Or back when your internet solutions provider and Telkom bickered like frustrated parents, each blaming the other for the internet’s shortcomings? Ok, sometimes they still do. But for the most part, the internet has grown alarmingly fast; sporting not broad shoulders, but broadband, and shedding its gaudy webpage style for more sophisticated CSS attire.

Yes, it has had its fair share of run-in’s with the law, shown us its depraved XXX side and tried its hand at illicit  underdealings, drag-racing down that (Silk) Road that we wished it would have bypassed. But for the most part, the internet shows signs of steadily maturing into a frightfully aware and knowledgeable adult.

In honour of freedom

And, as befitting an adult, who has tamed his or her impulses and has a bit more wisdom and reason, the web’s own father (inventor) Sir Tim Berners-Lee honored his offspring with an impassioned plea for ensuring that it remains free moving forward, and able to be a productive participant in advancing society, rather than locked up behind bars of overzealous censorship.

“Today is a day to celebrate. But it’s also an occasion to think, discuss—and do,” commented Berners-Lee.

Key questions

“Key decisions on the governance and future of the Internet are looming, and it’s vital for all of us to speak up for the web’s future. Will we allow others to package and restrict our online experience, or will we protect the magic of the open web and the power it gives us to say, discover, and create anything? How can we build systems of checks and balances to hold the groups that can spy on the net accountable to the public? These are some of my questions—what are yours?” he continued.

It’s a worthy tribute  well worth reading in full here, and you may want to consider this: the only thing worse than never having known the internet at all, is having experienced the freedom and opportunities it brings, only to see these taken away or compromised. Happy Birthday, internet.

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