Tim Berners-Lee, the man who is best known for creating the World Wide Web, is a bit upset about the direction that his creation took.
During an interview for the August edition of Vanity Fair, Berners-Lee confessed that he’s not really excited about what has become of the web.
“We demonstrated that the web had failed instead of served humanity, as it was supposed to have done, and failed in many places,” he said.
He added that the way in which the web has centralized “ended up producing—with no deliberate action of the people who designed the platform—a large-scale emergent phenomenon which is anti-human.”
Berners-Lee may be referring to the way in which some companies around the world managed to transform Internet services into a cartel within their countries, much like how some ISPs in the United States are the only carrier of choice within a specific region.
In the 90s, the Internet was still a new frontier for several companies and inspired individuals, expanding into a wealth of information that would eventually become the pillar of what we mostly take for granted today. Berners-Lee remembers this as something much different to the Internet of 2018.
“The spirit there was very decentralized. The individual was incredibly empowered. It was all based on there being no central authority that you had to go to to ask permission. That feeling of individual control, that empowerment, is something we’ve lost,” he said.
Though he didn’t mention it in this specific interview, Berners-Lee has hope for blockchain technology to take the helm and turn the internet back in a direction that would at least resemble this absolute freedom.
During a conference in Toronto, he said that “the blockchain and the web will connect together in lots of interesting ways.”
This may very well happen, but ISPs and major companies that currently own some of the Internet’s backbone will continue to be a part of this change, regardless of how much developers manage to democratize the web. In the end, the Internet runs on fiber cables, copper, and several advanced routing systems that help signals hop to their destinations.
This all requires a massive amount of investment that service providers are happy to foot for a monthly fee. It’s a reality we won’t escape anytime soon, blockchain or not.
What blockchain technology could accomplish, however, is change the way data is collected and transmitted across the web, protecting the rights of users while introducing another set of challenges that developers will have to overcome in the coming years.