World Wide What?

World Wide What? is a 2015 British film written, directed and filmed by Adam Townsend and Andy Trace of Cavalier, and produced by Poppy Gaye of Founders Forum.[1] The film shows a parallel universe in which Tim Berners-Lee failed to invent the World Wide Web and the subsequent impact that would have on the lives of high-profile tech entrepreneurs. The film is narrated by Stephen Fry[2] and includes cameos from Jimmy Wales, Arianna Huffington, Sean Parker, Tim Berners-Lee, Reid Hoffman, Michael Bloomberg, Michael Acton Smith, Martha Lane Fox, Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho, Brent Hoberman, and Steve Case.

World Wide What?
Directed byAdam Townsend and Andy Trace
Produced byPoppy Gaye
Screenplay byAdam Townsend and Andy Trace
Narrated byStephen Fry
Release date
CountryUnited Kingdom


The film begins in 1989 at the offices of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN, where Tim Berners Lee is working on his aspirations for the World Wide Web. He reflects to himself in private that this project could go on to promote "world peace" and also help people "share pictures of kittens". Upon leaving his office, Stephen Fry describes how a short-sighted assistant could have changed the course of humanity if she had accidentally put Tim Berners Lee's research in a waste paper basket. The film then goes on to depict a succession of sketches played out by global tech entrepreneurs in which they are forced to carry out analogue versions of their digital jobs. In order of appearance:

The film then returns to CERN to find Tim Berners Lee desperately looking for his research for creating the World Wide Web. As he becomes more and more distressed, his assistant walks through the door holding the papers stating that she had read them overnight. When Tim Berners Lee asks her if she thinks the research stands a chance in working, she ponders "50/50", much to his disappointment.


The film was funded by YouTube and King, with Jimmy Wales as executive producer. The script was written by filmmaker Adam Townsend of Cavalier, at the time with Freud Communications[4] after the initial concept was developed by Jimmy Wales and Founders Forum.[5] The scenes were filmed in London, Los Angeles, New York, Washington and Suffolk. The scenes that took place in America were directed by Declan Masterson.


  1. ^ "Founders Forum Just Posted This Video Of Huge Entrepreneurs And It's Hilarious". TechCrunch. 18 June 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  2. ^ "Stephen Fry-Narrated Video Shows World's Biggest Tech Entrepreneurs If The Internet Hadn't Been Invented". 19 June 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Arianna In A World Without The Internet". 18 June 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  4. ^ "Stephen Fry Contemplates the World without the Internet". PixelVulture. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  5. ^ Clark, Liat (19 June 2015). "Watch the world's biggest entrepreneurs live an internet-free dystopia (Wired UK)". Retrieved 28 July 2015.