Hooray for human invention

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The World Wide Web turns 25 this year and continues to change our lives

by Connie Faber, CL editor

When was the last time you celebrated the gift of human invention? A recent occasion for me was March 16 when our daughter looked up from her smartphone and reported that with half of the results in, 95 percent of Crimea voters were in favor of splitting with Ukraine and joining Russia. Two hours before, during the Sunday morning worship service, our congregation had prayed about the vote. And now thanks to all that goes into smartphone technology, we knew at least something about how this international crisis was playing out.

Last month the World Wide Web, an innovation that has significantly changed how we get our news, turned 25. Tim Berners-Lee published a paper March 12, 1989, proposing an “information management” system that became the conceptual and architectural structure for the World Wide Web. The British computer scientist released the code for his system—for free—to the world on Christmas Day 1990. It became a milestone in easing the way for ordinary people to access documents and interact over a network of computer networks called the Internet, a system that had been around for years. For many of us, Lee’s invention has become synonymous with the Internet, even though that is technically not the case.

Using the Web—browsing it, searching it and sharing it—has become a major activity for millions of people around the globe. In addition to changing how we get, share and create news, the Internet has impacted how we learn, how we do our jobs and how we communicate with friends and family. It is influencing how we do church.

A new series of reports from The Pew Research Center marking the 25th anniversary of the Web shows that we Americans generally feel positive about the Internet’s impact on our lives and personal relationships. Pew also reports that while experts anticipate that by 2025 the Internet will flow through our lives “like electricity” and are hopeful about the future of the Internet, they are also concerned about things like interpersonal ethics, surveillance, terror and crime.

While it’s true that human inventions and discoveries often have both positive and negative results, I am thankful that God gives us curiosity and the desire to imagine, explore and create. You and I may not invent the next World Wide Web, but we can use our God-given ingenuity and resourcefulness at our jobs and in our homes, communities and churches in ways that celebrate goodness and make the world more the way God intends it to be.

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