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PSY 355 Psychology & Media in the Digital Age

This page was last modified on March 9, 2014

The 25th Anniversary of the World Wide Web

March 12, 1989 (25 years ago)
Working at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), the British computer expert, Tim Berners-Lee, proposed the creation of a method by which scientists and educators could freely exchange information by linking together computers. CERN initiated what was termed the World Wide Web (WWW) Project. Here's the CERN history of this initiative.

Here are two pictures I took of Berners-Lee in March, 2013 at the South by Southwest (SxSW) Interactive Conference in Austin, TX:

                      Berners Lee    Tim Berners Lee

Here what the first page of Berners-Lee's original proposal in 1989 looked like:

Original WWW Proposal

Berners-Lee argued that the way in which information can be exchanged easily would be by using hypertext, that is, a type of information in which the text (or image or drawing or other visual object) also contains a link that points to other information, images, drawings, etc. In his argument to the CERN community, Berners-Lee noted:
This is why a "web" of notes with links (like references) between them is far more useful than a fixed hierarchical system. When describing a complex system, many people resort to diagrams with circles and arrows. Circles and arrows leave one free to describe the interrelationships between things in a way that tables, for example, do not. The system we need is like a diagram of circles and arrows, where circles and arrows can stand for anything.
What Berners-Lee wanted the people at CERN to avoid was an information system which was hierarchical in nature, with fixed boundaries or inflexible categories. It needed to be an information exchange system that could expand in all sorts of directions and have flexibility built into its very structure. He believed that hypertext offered the ideal way of setting up such a system which could link researchers and scientists all over the world.

CERN immediately took up Berners-Lee's project and began what they called The World Wide Web (W3) Project. Here is what the very first Web page looks like (the original was restored to its original address online at CERN a few years ago):

First WWW page 

From the 1989 proposal, the WWW emerged in relatively rapid fashion. Probably the best visualization of how the WWW evolved technically can be found online at The Evolution of the Web. The chart below from that site illustrates the technical developments during the Web's first decade:

WWW 1990-1999

Notice that once the WWW was made free for all to use, there was an explosion of new technologies and other developments. This pattern has continued to accelerate at what seems like an exponential rate. So, here is a chart of the technical innovations to the web in the last 10 years, that is, 2004 to 2014:

Web 2004-2014

Cyberbullying Myths
(Sabella, Patchin, & Hinduja, 2013)

Myth 1: Everyone knows what cyberbullying is
  • Because we have no standard or accepted definition, different studies report widely different findings
  • Social science (any science) rests on a foundation of definitional agreement. This is one of the major problems in social science.
Myth 2: Cyberbullying is occurring at epidemic levels
  • Media portrayal of dramatic cases does not equal "epidemic"
  • Sabella et al. argue that cyberbullying is at a lower level than our group suggested, i.e., at the 20-30% level.
Myth 3: Cyberbullying causes suicide
  • Difference between correlation & causation
  • There is a correlation between any type of bullying and suicidal thoughts & attempts. This relationship probably reflects the impact of bullying on depression, social withdrawal, disability, social hopelessness & other psychiatric problems. The notion here is that cyberbullying intensifies an already present vulnerability.
Myth 4: Cyberbullying occurs more often now than traditional bullying
  • Unfortunately, there has been a lot of bullying over the years & cyberbullying is only another form. There is a significant overlap between traditional and cybger-bullies
Myth 5: Like traditional bullying, cyberbullying is a rite of passage all teens experience
  • Bullying has never been accepted as a rite of passage in the past.
  • "Victims and bullies have more social, emotional, behavioral, and academic problems than others who are not involved. As described above, victims are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and loneliness, and these consequences are still detected when the victims are adults. Various studies that have found that peer rejection, delinquency, criminality, violence, and suicidal ideation were additional outcomes of involvement in bullying."
Myth 6: Cyberbullies are outcasts or just mean kids
  • "It seems that many cyberbullies who retaliate are often angry, frustrated, or otherwise emotionally distraught and are simply acting out using the technology that is readily at their fingertips. Others participate in cyberbullying because they want retribution by returning a hurt or injury or to seek justice and teach a lesson. Still others casually dismiss the gravity of their cyberbullying behaviors because they do not make the connection between their online behavior and the offline consequences. These aggressors have also been referred to as “inadvertent” cyberbullies (Willard, 2007c) because, although their postings were intentional, they intended no harm. At the time, inadvertent cyberbullies believed that what they were doing was benign, and they were just “having fun” or “messing around.” "...some cyberbullies may be perceived among teachers and peers as kind and responsible students while in school, even when they could be actively involved in bullying others outside the purview of adults. For example, Hinduja and Patchin (2012b) found that those students who reported earning grades of mostly A’s were just as likely to be involved in cyberbullying (both as a target and a bully) as those students who reported that they typically earned C’s or D’s. Just because certain students do well academically does not mean they are less likely to mistreat others."
    • Angry, frustrated, emotionally distraught
    • Seeking retribution, justice, teaching a lesson
    • "Inadvertent" because individual was "having fun" or "messing around"
Myth 7: To stop cyberbullying, just turn off your computer or cell phone
  • Social media are simply too entwined in the lives of most teenagers for this to be a reasonable strategy.