To paraphrase The Beatles, Sir Timothy Berners-Lee may wonder whether we will still love him when he turns 64 this summer.
This is, after all, the man who invented the internet, and it’s fair to say for every person who adores it and can’t imagine how we ever lived without it, there are others who despise it.
March 12 1989, exactly 30 years ago, was the day Sir Timothy gave us the World Wide Web, and by last year, more than half the planet’s population had internet access.
Sadly, he reckons the internet still has an awful lot to do if it is to become the thing he envisaged three decades ago.
Just a few months back, for instance, he admitted social media can be full of hatred and negativity, and those certainly were not things he hoped to spread with his creation.
Sir Timothy said if you put a drop of love into the likes of Twitter, it decays and fades fast, whereas when you put some hate in there, it grows.
What he dreamed of growing, when he was knocking his invention into shape, was knowledge and the sharing of information.
It is, after all, supposed to be an information space, where we can find more facts than we’d get in a zillion encyclopedias.
All connected through hypertext links – click on something and it will take you to something else – it can be great when used for good ends, and disastrous and dangerous when used for darker means.
Born in London on June 8 1955, Timothy John Berners-Lee was one of four children born to Mary Lee Woods and Conway Berners-Lee.
They had worked on the Ferranti Mark 1, the very first commercially-built computer, so it is not hard to see where his interests came from. This man was born to work in such fields.
As a child, he was into trainspotting, and learned about electronics while tinkering with his model railway.
He went on to study at The Queen’s College, Oxford, gaining a first-class bachelor of arts degree in physics, and it was during his college days that he took an old TV set and turned it into a computer.
Probably not even Sir Timothy completely envisaged what his invention would look like, and what he put forward back then was an information-management system.
When he succeeded in getting a Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or HTTP – think of endless pages of related information all at the click of a computer mouse – to communicate with a server, it was the biggest Eureka moment in the last century.
The possibilities were endless, and they still are, even if we seem to have got bogged down in Twitter and photos of cute kittens, and relying on our gadgets instead of getting off the couch and going outdoors like our grandparents did.
Even this soon after Berners-Lee’s remarkable invention, there are generations who can’t even imagine what it was like before email, social media, uploading and downloading, liking and tweeting and making instant purchases on Amazon.
Their faces are a picture when you describe having to work your way through endless reference books to find information and then write it on a piece of paper, put it in an envelope, stamp it and put it in a postbox, then wait for days for a response.
And many can’t get their heads around the idea of getting a bus into town and walking up the high street to a shop where they can buy something.
You can see why Sir Timothy has become a bit frustrated and unhappy about his invention.
“We’ve got people who don’t have access, and we have people who have it but just use it to join groups who are nasty to other people on a social network that hasn’t figured out how to stop them,” he says.
It’s an unforeseen aspect that clearly troubles him, and his vision was all about the sharing of information, helping the world with things, not turning it into a global forum for invisible bullies.
On the other hand, as he also knows, the world wide web, internet and even social media can be wonderful, inspiring things that make the world a better place in the long run.
It’s highly unlikely that he imagined the President of the United States would use it as his main outlet for letting the world know what he is up to, or for letting off steam.
Then again, he perhaps never imagined a man like Donald Trump would become President and, if he did, he presumably assumed Trump would use the traditional media outlets for any announcements.
It’s tempting to wonder if Sir Timothy ever gets on public transport now, and finds himself surrounded by people staring at their tablets and smartphones, and thinks, “What have I done?”
If he thought his new-fangled system would be mostly used by offices and scientists, politicians and the armed forces, he must be amazed at the facts.
Such as the facts we now share more than 27 million pieces of content daily, across more than 600 million websites, with half-a-billion tweets each day and five billion Amazon items sold by 2014.
You can safely say there aren’t too many people out there who have managed to completely shun the world wide web.
His invention has definitely changed the way we work beyond all recognition.
We can email photos and charts to the boss at 3am, safe in the knowledge they’ll receive them on the other side of the world when they reach their desktop computer.
Our companies can save a fortune by selling the old office block and having us work from home via the internet. Or from the nearest café.
On payday, we can check the dosh is in with online banking, and when we are feeling too ill for work, they say it won’t be long before our GP will be able to examine us via webcam instead of going to the surgery.
Let’s hope, as Sir Timothy Berners-Lee’s incredible invention celebrates its 30th birthday, we find a happy balance in how we use it and how often we use it.