This year marks the 25th anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web. When we look at how much a part of our lives it is and how it has impacted our world so dramatically, it seems much older, at least to me.
On March 12, 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote a paper proposing an “information management” system that became the conceptual and architectural structure for the Web. He released the code for it—for free—on Christmas 1990.
It thus became a major layer of the internet. Indeed, for many, it became synonymous with the internet, even though that is not technically the case. The internet is rules (protocols) that enable computer networks to communicate with each other. The Web is a service that uses the network to allow computers to access files and pages that are hosted on other computers. Other applications that are different from the Web also exploit the internet’s architecture to facilitate such things as email, some kinds of instant messaging, and peer-to-peer activities like internet phone calling through services like Skype or file sharing through torrent services.
Using the Web—browsing it, searching it, sharing on it—has become the main activity for hundreds of millions of people around the globe.
From The Web at 25 in the US by the Pew Research Center
The Pew Center has attributed the speed and breadth with which the web has grown to the availability of broadband, the growth of social networks and the use of mobile devices. All of which continue to grow.
This is a good time to ask how we are using the internet to proclaim the gospel, carry out adult faith-formation, and support faith values in people’s everyday lives. How are we using it to facilitate works of mercy and compassion and to share the joy of the Christian life, the gifts of our vocations and our rich spiritual traditions with the world? How are we preparing our young people, who have never known the world without the internet, to use it in ethical and productive ways?
The Vatican communications office has been pro-active in utilizing the internet since early on in the papacy of Pope Benedict. They understood the importance of these tools for advancing the Gospel and both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have encouraged them to use them. The positive global impact of Pope Francis has been greatly enhanced by his presence on social media and the use of the internet to live stream his talks and messages.
Next week I will look at some examples of how we are using the internet effectively for ministry in the U.S. If you have some examples to share, please do so in the comments below. Thank you.
Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net