The Internet comes a full circle

By Ben Anderson


Last week the 27th birthday of the World Wide Web quietly passed without a fuss or much of a fanfare. The silver anniversary got much more attention and rightly so. It was in March 1989 when Sir Tim Berners-Lee, then working at CERN, proposed a new way of sharing information over the Internet which at that time was a loose group of documents and networks that were primarily used by government defence departments. The result of Berners-Lee’s proposal was the world’s first website and it was that monochrome site that provided instructions to others on the basic features of the web and how you could setup your own server so that users could browse your documents online.

It was in April 1993 when CERN published the source code for the hypertext project into the public domain and made the World Wide Web free for all to use, that standard still remains today. The move had an unprecedented impact on the Internet as it was then with only one per cent of traffic being used for the web. The rapid growth from that point is not something anyone could have imagined. Fast forward to 2016 and Netcraft recently reported that there are now over one billion websites active on the Internet – an absolutely staggering amount.

That growth is as impressive as are the mind boggling numbers we see with Internet use today. There are 500 million tweets per day over 70 million Instagram posts and ecommerce revenue continues to climb. But it’s not those figures that caught my attention last week it was the fact the world’s first website got a new address and as far as I could tell no one noticed when discussing it online.

CERN recently transitioned over to their own Top Level Domain dotCERN and visitors now arrive at the easily understandable address of In fact the address looks and sounds so natural that users appear to have adopted the change without even knowing it has really happened. CERN’s new home continues to climb in the global website ranking and is in the top 100 thousand sites online. What’s more important is that users are linking to without even questioning what this new web address is. That’s great news for dotBRAND registries and users of new gTLDs.

Adoption is one of the big issues holding many dotBRAND owners back but just as with the use of the first website it’s not long before this move will begin to spread to others. NetNames clients such as Barclays, Sandvik, Monash, Saxo Bank and CERN are spearheading this next evolution of online addressing. It’s not be the big bang many expected but these small changes appear to resonate with users without causing confusion.

I just wonder how we will view dotBRANDs come the next anniversary of the birth of the World Wide Web and whether once again we will point to CERN as the pioneer of this latest change. It certainly feels as if we’ve come full circle.