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Sir Tim Berners-Lee

September 26th, 2005 Leave a comment Go to comments

BBC Four have just broadcast a very nice interview with Sir Tim Berners-Lee (I think it might have had something to do with this new “World Wide Web” thingy that people keep harking on about!)

It was quite revealling, having not had much interest before in his morals or his “drive”. It seemed to focus more on what he thinks of the way that the web had involved, and whether “he had any sleepness nights over the perverted images available”.

Sir Tim never seemed to defend the other side of the web though. He mentioned in several instances about “the ‘Greater Good'” and mentioned receiving email from people who the Web had literally saved their lives, but he never defended his position (and his brain child)using such examples as (for example) the Open Source Software movement (I accept that that name is a gross generalisation, but it will pass for now!), or the vast, well-research, information projects such as Wiki-Pedia.

He touched briefly on the Sematic Web, but his example only seemed to promote it as a commercial aggregation tool (the example he gave was for hotel prices, but that kind of site is already available using existing Web technologies), and did not promote it as a vast information source.

More interestingly though, when questioned over any regrets he had about making the Web a commercial entity before releasing it, he gave a very strange and slightly contradictory answer. His reply stated that he did not have sleepness nights thinking that he could have made an incredibly large amount of wealth through the technology, but he did state that after initially developing the technologies, he realised that for the system to go “to a point of critical mass” – “It would have to be royalty free”. It is fair to conclude then, that monetary benefit was conjectured, but obviously rejected – for me, that would occasionally make me consider (especially with the scope of what he has achieved) how different my life could have been.

His views for the future were quite interesting, where he envisions the World Wide Web becoming “an assumption” as much as the light bulb or paper, and he expects the Semantic Web to grow further. He would not be drawn into an exact position though, merely stating that “Computer Science is only limited by people’s imagination”.

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