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O’Reilly Media’s Alex Howard, who tweets as @Digiphile, dropped this gem in the stream today:

“1991: “The WWW project aims to allow links to be made to any information anywhere”-@timberners_lee /HT @Zee”

Well that’s a link you gotta click, if you’re at all interested in how massive change gets started.

And indeed, it’s twenty years ago today, August 6, 1991: a Usenet post by Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web, answering a question on whether anyone had plans regarding “Hypertext links enabling retrieval from multiple heterogenous sources of information.”

Tim replied as Alex quoted above, and continued to explain the project – running on NeXT computers, among other things. (Some things last, some don’t!)

E-Patient impact: In healthcare and especially medicine, information is vital. Hypertext, and especially the Web, became one of the fundamental changes that enabled informed patients.

It’s not 100% of participatory medicine, of course: for instance people connect in discussion groups, such as,,, and many others. They’re all descended from the bulletin board systems of the 1970s and 1980s, which morphed into Usenet, an unorchestrated and free-flowing, free-growing collection of newsgroups. All together those innovations democratized access to information.

(About that tweet: @Zee is Zee M Kane, Editor-in-Chief of The Next Web. For ye who aren’t twitterized yet, “HT” means “hat tip,” a very short “thanks” to the person who spotted it.)




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