Sunday, August 7, 2011

20th Anniversary of the World Wide Web

On August 6, 1991 the World Wide Web (www.) was made available to the public on the Internet. A full account of this information is found at Twenty years later, many of us practically live on the Internet, either before or with their morning coffee or late into the night. It has become a valuable tool for keeping in contact with our friends and researching every conceivable need for information. Because of the public access to the Internet, world wide news travels in seconds, probably faster.

I am a ardent believer in keeping the Internet free of Government involvement. Good intentions in the guise of protecting us can also restrict us.

On September 11, 2001, I worked in a building on 53rd Street near Park Avenue in New York City. My daughter worked 500 paces from the South Tower at the World Trade Center. My children on the West Coast thought I still worked at the World Trade Center on that day. (Actually, I had changed jobs and moved to the midtown area.) After the planes hit those towers, it didn't take long for us to lose phone service. Therefore, I could not phone my East or West Coast children to tell them that my daughter and I were alive.

Later in the morning, I thought of the Internet. I had never used the computer at work for personal reasons. But, that day I sent e-mails to my San Diego friends. asking them to phone my family in San Diego and Los Angeles. When the first plane hit the North Tower, my friends in San Diego were only getting up for work. I didn't know that they never went to work that day. I sent e-mails to my West Coast children, guessing at their work e-mail addresses, telling them that their sister and mother were OK. I gave them our locations, where we would be that evening in case there was another attack, and phone numbers to possibly reach us. New York City was in "lockdown" and we weren't going anywhere. If we didn't have this unfettered public access, my children would have continued wondering if we were alive. Because my son received my e-mail in Los Angeles, he was able to call me. I can't explain how he could get a call in yet I couldn't get a call out. Just suffice it to say, he spoke with me and his sister.

So, while there is good and bad on the Internet, we must preserve our freedom to this access. With all the social networking available on Facebook and Twitter, we contact friends, some of us with vital information and others with every thought that crosses their minds. They are free to do that.

We cannot wake up some morning and find that our Twitter and Facebook, much less Internet access has been taken away because of a real or perceived crisis. If "the powers that be" are concerned about hackers, they should be working on improving software security to preserve freedom for all, not restraining all. I believe we should appreciate what we have and keep the Internet public.

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