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What does the World Wide Web hold for us over the next 25 years?
Updated 5:07pm Sunday 16th March 2014 in News
IT IS the technological innovation that has changed the lives of billions of people across the planet.
Twenty-five years ago, the first site on the World Wide Web was created by an academic nowworking at the University of Southampton.
Since Sir Tim Berners-Lee, above, launched the world’s first website, info.cern.ch, the world has revolutionised the way people interact and carry out basic tasks like buying food and paying bills.
And the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter have become part of everyday life for millions of people.
But, 25 years on from the ground-breaking moment Sir Tim set up the first, basic Web page, experts are divided on how the Web will influence life in the future.
However, they are united in the view that its impact will have more and more dramatic effects on the lives of every person on the planet.
The Pew Research Center, an American thinktank, collected the views of thousands of experts on the future of the Internet.
They believe it will have an ever increasing role in politics and major changes within countries, pointing to the Arab Spring, where social media helped to spread revolutions that toppled a number of governments in the Middle East and North Africa.
And they also believe it will play an ever more important role in health, with new devices able to detect the risk of diseases and health problems.
Professor Les Carr, from the University of Southampton’s Web Science Institute, agrees that healthcare is one of the areas where the Internet could make a big impact.
He said: “You already have apps for phones which allow you to track your movement or how many steps you’ve walked or run.
“So there will clearly be ways of monitoring health and health issues, like diabetes for example, that will come online.”
In the immediate future, Prof Carr believes some of the most important improvements that will be made will be to how the Internet works.
He continued: “There is the 4G wireless network which is being rolled out.
“This is going to speed up access hugely.
“People talk about the Web and how wonderful smartphones are, but all of us know you don’t have to go very far on a train or around the city centre to discover there are lots of dead spots for Internet access.
“So there is a lot of potential to improve the infrastructure.
"I think a lot of the big changes in the near future will be at Internet level – improvements to wiring and wireless and how to make it faster.”
Looking further into the future, Professor Carr, above, says it is hard to predict exact changes, but there are a number of things he expects to see.
He continued: “Looking forward, new technology could allow your oven to send you a message that the front door has told it that even though everyone has left the house, it is still on.
“Or it might be that I could send a message to my home’s heating system saying that I’ll be back in half an hour and to turn the heat on.
“Or you could be able to download an entire movie within seconds.
“Given how far off something like Google, where you type in a question and get millions of answers within seconds, would have sounded 25 years ago, it might not be as far-fetched as it sounds.
“There is also a downside to improving Internet access, such as the loss of privacy, but there are a lot of opportunities that the Web is going to offer.”
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