Happy Birthday World Wide Web (www)

Yesterday CERN celebrated the 20th birthday of the World Wide Web (do not confuse it with Internet) with a speech of www-inventor Tim Berners-Lee, who warns against website snooping.

Read the blog-entry of Marco Zehe, how the WorldWideWeb opens a new world for a man, who is totally blind from birth.

For me, the web has opened a ton of possibilities that I would have otherwise required sighted assistance with, or which would not be possible for me to do at all, such as casually browsing the New York Times or the Hamburger Abendblatt. I would not be able to look for specific items on, or simply browse the offerings of Amazon. I would not be able to sell no longer needed items on eBay.

Without the web, the world of newspapers would always be more or less hidden from me, unless a sighted person read something to me. The truth is, even though there is very good optical character recognition software out there, newspaper layouts are simply too much to cope, let alone that most newspaper formats don’t fit on off-the-shelf scanners, or even those scanners produced by assistive technology firms.

For shopping, I would always have to rely on someone else to share what they thought the most interesting or compelling offerings in a shopping mall were. It would not be solely my decision what CD I’d buy, what electronic gadget was best for me etc. Oh yes, in many cases I would probably get what I wanted, but it would never be my 100% freedom of choice without depending on others to help me.


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