TIME asked Tim Berners-Lee, Madeleine Albright, Michelle Bachelet, and other prominent personalities to write to a young person or people of their own choosing.
These prominent personalities were chosen because they have “decades of experience in the fields of statecraft, human-rights work and innovation—and together their open letters reflect a feeling of hope that, despite the challenges young people face, they also hold the power to improve the planet”, TIME says.
Tim Berners-Lee, the co-founder of the World Wide Web (WWW), opted to write a letter to the girls at the Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre (W.TEC) in Lagos.
The letter reads:
Since inventing the World Wide Web I’ve seen it improve millions of lives, transforming how we communicate, collaborate and create. But today, almost half the world’s population remains unconnected and digital platforms don’t work equally well for everyone, with many women and girls particularly underserved.
When I visited you in Lagos during the 30th birthday of the web, you filled me with hope for the the web’s impact on our world because, as you bring new voices and experiences to the web, you will change it for the better.
The web becomes more powerful as each person contributes their particular part of it. And so as you and your peers become business people, policy makers and content creators, your skills and perspectives will help make the web richer for everyone.
You can already make a difference. When you go online, write about your experiences and hopes for the future. Share the issues you care about and tell your political leaders what you stand for. Make sure your culture, beliefs and local languages are represented on the web. And use your coding skills to solve challenges specific to Nigeria and West Africa.
When you do this you will make life better for yourself and others in Lagos. At the same time, you will improve the web as a whole.
We know that today’s web has challenges we all need to fix. That’s why I launched the Contract for the Web — a global plan that sets a vision for the web we want and provides a roadmap for the policies and actions we need to get there.
This Contract calls for action from those that currently have the power to shape the web — governments, companies and individual web users — so that future generations like you can continue to use it to learn, create, and fight for justice.
The Contract asks technology leaders to design systems that are safe, empowering and that protect your rights and promote democracy. And it calls on companies to think beyond short term revenue and user growth and to develop business practices that people trust and are sustainable in the long term.
As part of the solution, Inrupt, a company I cofounded, is helping build a technology called Solid, which is designed to make your experience on the web more personal and empowering and, most importantly, in your control. A Solid “Pod” provides a secure place to store all kinds of data about you, and allows you to share any combination of that data with whichever people, apps or organizations you choose — or no one.
Ambitious, coordinated action and new web technologies like Solid are vital to get the web we want — a web that you can use to build the world you want. With your leadership, the web’s next 30 years will be greater than the last. I can’t wait to explore the web that you all create.