Things would definitely be very, very different if the Web had not been open and allowed to develop freely. Would we be worse off than we were? Probably not. But there are many advances that we would not have seen. Certainly there have been drawbacks, and we have to negotiate the issues of information overload and connectivity. But. And this is hugely important: knowledge mingles and has babies called breakthroughs, and those breakthroughs are happening much more quickly thanks to the web. I think we’ve definitely had an overall benefit.
Read it all: Twenty years ago this week, researchers renounced the right to patent the World Wide Web.