WWW.JD? | Connecting with Culture
‘Suppose all the information stored on computers everywhere were linked. Suppose I could program my computer to create a space in which everything could be linked to everything.’
– Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Thirty years ago, the world’s largest physics laboratory, CERN, was struggling with multiple incompatible computers. Sir Tim Berners-Lee proposed a unifying structure for linking information, paving the way for the World Wide Web.
The web has revolutionised life as we know it: global information sharing through the internet has changed the way we work, rest, communicate, read, shop, spend, learn, socialise, and almost everything else, with astounding labour-saving benefits.
At CERN’s anniversary event on Tuesday, Berners-Lee and other key figures probed the ethics and hopes that lie at the web’s foundations. Programmer Lou Montulli even observed, ‘working on the web gave me something to believe in – something to be part of that was bigger than myself’.
Over the course of the event, the web’s initial developers celebrated its potential to bring everyone, everywhere into universal connection, to share limitless knowledge and understanding, and to offer hope in the face of humanity’s uncertain future.
Nevertheless, major problems with the web have also made headlines this week. Berners-Lee has raised his own deep concerns about state-sponsored hacking, criminal behaviour, viral misinformation, and the polarisation of online discourse.
The web may be hugely powerful, but it remains a tool built by humans, open to extraordinary use and terrible abuse. It can’t fully deliver on our most deeply ingrained human needs for connection, understanding, and hope.
Berners-Lee’s vision for the web was of a ‘space in which everything could be linked to everything’. The Bible claims that there is only one person in the universe who really offers that: ‘In him all things were created… all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together’ (Colossians 1:16-17).
Jesus alone meets our deepest longings for connection, possesses infinite understanding, and offers an unshakeable hope for the future. As Christians we are free to celebrate the opportunities that come with the web, whilst praying God would challenge us to use it wisely and always to his glory.
How much more secure to have faith in a World Wide God, who holds all of time and space together in his hands.
Subscribe to Connecting with Culture