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The World Wide Web celebrates its 20th anniversary

Some differ on when it was born, but by some measures the World Wide Web turned 20 last weekend. Tim Berners-Lee introduced his proposal for a “WorldWideWeb” to CERN on November 12, 1990. According to an article by Ben Zimmer in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine on the origin of the word “Web,”  the phrase World Wide Web was sort of a placeholder in the marketing strategy for Tim Burners-Lee and his colleague Robert Cailliau, who knew their hypertext link-based information management system was revolutionary, even though Berners-Lee’s previous proposal “had met with minimal internal interest.” The duo had apparently tried other names for the project, but had not found anything suitable so when the deadline came around they went with Berners-Lee’s working title. They figured they could come up with something better if and when the proposal was accepted. But they never did find anything that could beat the easy alliteration of World Wide Web.

But what’s in a name? If it wasn’t called the World Wide Web it would have gone by another title. Perhaps we would be working with “Internet Services” or “Graph Services” instead of “Web Services.” The principles behind Web services would still be the same, though. The real worth of the WorldWideWeb proposal was not in the name, but in the new concepts it set into motion. And Tim Berners-Lee has been guiding those concepts, promoting openness and interoperability via the internet for the past 20 years. So if you’re reading this Mr. Berners-Lee, thanks and keep up the good work from all of us at