Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tim Berners-Lee on the Web Today

Tim Berners-Lee’s "Manifesto on the State of the Web" begins with this: "The world wide web went live, on my physical desktop in Geneva, Switzerland, in December 1990. It consisted of one Web site and one browser, which happened to be on the same computer."

OK, so I stole the title "Manifesto" from other reviewers. The piece at issue here is actually an article titled "Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality," and ran in the recent issue of Scientific American.

But "Manifesto" sounds so much more dramatic, yes? And the issues raised in the article have very dramatic implications - though they are treated in a very measured and logical way by Berners-Lee. I find one of the most intriguing discussions is that of the balance of control and freedom. Simplistic, one-sided arguments are much more likely to generate passionate responses. But they are also much more likely to generate naive, short-sighted and generally useless responses. And, according to Berners-Lee, the issues are too important for such responses:
"The Web is critical not merely to the digital revolution but to our continued prosperity—and even our liberty. Like democracy itself, it needs defending..."

You can find the article here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=long-live-the-web&page=5 - Enjoy!