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A look back at the first weekend of the Web We Want Festival

Web Foundation · September 28, 2014

After an exciting and jam-packed weekend at the Web We Want Festival, the Web Foundation communications team shares some initial reflections from the weekend.

The Web We Want is open, free, secure and available for all to use. Those were the conclusions of participants at the first weekend of the Web We Want Festival, held this past weekend at Southbank Centre in London. The three-part Festival — a collaboration between Southbank Centre and the Web We Want campaign — kicked off on Saturday and featured a weekend of discussions, seminars and interactive workshops designed to celebrate 25 years of the Web and to discuss how we can best create and protect the Web We Want for the future.


Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, and Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, opened the Festival with a discussion about the need for a global Internet Magna Carta. Over the next two days, participants examined threats to the Web today with panels of Web activists and visionaries from around the globe, played computer games dating back to the early days of the Web, explored themes at the intersection of art and the Web, added their voice to the building of an Internet Magna Carta, and even had the opportunity to share their hopes for the future of the Web on a massive cardboard cake designed to celebrate the Web’s 25th birthday.

 tbl birthday cake

The highlight of the first weekend for many came on Saturday night, when festivalgoers packed the Royal Festival Hall to see a conversation between Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Richard Susskind OBE, which looked back at the invention of the Web and its early days, as well as ahead to Sir Tim’s hopes and fears for the future of the Web. Berners-Lee expressed concern: stating that his greatest fear was that a single entity — government or corporation — grew so powerful it could control the Web. The impact of revelations of mass government surveillance also came under the microscope. New survey results, released at the Festival, revealed that 40% of Britons have lost trust in the Web over the past year as a result of government surveillance and privacy breaches. Meanwhile, over half (57%) of those surveyed support the development of a dedicated “Bill of Rights” for the Internet — an idea which Berners-Lee has deemed necessary to guarantee human rights and freedoms online, and which the Web We Want campaign is working to develop. The talk ended with a note of optimism — harking back to Tim’s famous tweet at the Olympics: “This is for everyone.” Sir Tim reminded the audience that we all built the Web and we can and must all play a part in defining and shaping its future.

Tim Berners-Lee


The Web We Want Festival will be back at the Southbank in November for a second weekend — stay tuned to find out how to contribute and get involved!

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