The World Wide Web is thirty years old today.
The Internet may have existed for twenty years before the WWW, but it was not until English scientist Tim Berners-Lee brought us the Web So that documents and resources could be shared and linked to via Uniform Reosource Locators (URL’s).
A year later, Berners-Lee brought us the first software to display web pages on terminals called the Line Mode Browser.
It was not until 1993 when a Marc Andreessen led team at the University of Illinois brought us the Mosaic browser and then Netscape built on Mosaic a year later in 1994 that the Web became democratized – usable by the masses.
Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress celebrated the Web’s 30th anniversary by sharing that WordPress was created fourteen years after the birth of the Web with the mission to democratize publishing.
Democratize publishing WordPress did. As recently as twenty years ago, it was unheard of for anyone to have ready and inexpensive access to a printing press and a worldwide distribution network. Today, WordPress open source software has made this a reality.
At the same time, LexBlog saw law blogs as the democratization of legal publishing. Lawyers everywhere could build their name as trusted and reliable authorities in niche areas of law.
Until then, large legal publishing and media companies held the reigns to legal publishing Only those legal professionals approved by these gatekeepers could write and publish, whether it was a journal, news, commentary or information piece.
Now, any legal professional may publish and distribute news, insight and commentary. LexBlog, with 22,000 law bloggers contributing to its network is, as Ed Walters, the CEO of Fastcase, describes it, the largest newsroom in the history of legal journalism.
We talk of AI and other technology bringing us extraordinary change in the years ahead. But, arguably, the digital printing press, enabling anyone to communicate, advance ideas and collaborate is the most powerful piece of technology we’ll see in our lifetimes.
Mind too that we are witnessing all of these changes in many of our lifetimes. Vinton Cerf, recognized as one of the fathers of the Internet itself. was born just a decade before me.
We’re not talking Bell or Edison. In celebration of this 30th anniversary, Cerf tweeted a picture of he and Berners-Lee joking about who invented what.
When I think of it being only 16 years since the advent of the digital printing press and LexBlog grabbing it to build a managed WordPress platform for the law (thanks Matt), it feels like we are just getting started in democratizing legal publishing.