Working at CERN, Switzerland, Berners-Lee laid out the basic concepts of the WWW in a proposal for an information management system 30 years ago. The rest (followers, trolls, memes, gifs, stories, snaps, etc., etc.) is history.
Berners-Lee, however, said that the web had also created the opportunity for scammers, facilitated the spread of hatred and aided all kinds of crime.
Amid the concern, Berners-Lee said the anniversary was something to celebrate, and warmly recalled how his boss ordered a computer model that CERN did not possess, a deliberate "plot" to enable his project under the guise of testing the interoperability of different computers.
The contract, which is not "written in stone", must help guide people on the journey from "digital adolescence to a more mature, responsible and inclusive future", the web inventor said.
To address those problems, Berners-Lee suggested, in an open letter published on Monday, creating both laws and code to minimize state-sponsored hacking and attacks, criminal behavior, and online harassment; redesigning systems in a way that change incentives; understanding existing systems and modeling possible new ones or tweaking those we already have.
And finally he worries about the "unintended negative consequences of benevolent design, such as the outraged and polarised tone and quality of online discourse".
Under the contract's sweeping, broad ambition, governments are supposed to make sure everyone can connect to the internet, to keep it available and to respect privacy. Users too should do their best to advocate for a free, open and safe web and "Foster constructive healthy conversations online".
This year's challenge is to create an impactful video around the question, "If you could have one special power that would make life online better, what would it be?". Many experts peg the start of the internet to September 2, 1969, when a team of computer scientists at UCLA got two computers to send data to each other through a network for the first time.
So, as we enter the fourth decade of the world wide web, we have to accept that there's more at stake than Nyan Nyan Cat and Insta-posts of Kim Kardashian's arse (and we're not talking about Kayne). "It is more urgent than ever to ensure the other half are not left behind offline, and that everyone contributes to a web that drives equality, opportunity and creativity". "We will have failed the web", he wrote.