Tim Berners-Lee, fully Sir Timothy John "Tim" Berners-Lee

Berners-Lee, fully Sir Timothy John "Tim" Berners-Lee

English Computer Scientist, Inventor of the World Wide Web in 1989, Director of the World Wide Web Consortium

Author Quotes

There was a time when people felt the internet was another world, but now people realize it's a tool that we use in this world.

Web pages are designed for people. For the Semantic Web, we need to look at existing databases.

WorldWideWeb: Proposal for a HyperText Project.

Anyone who has lost track of time when using a computer knows the propensity to dream, the urge to make dreams come true and the tendency to miss lunch.

I believe that 20 years from now, people will look back at where we are today as being a time when the Web of documents was fairly well established, such that if someone wanted to find a document, there?s a pretty good chance it could be found on the Web. The Web of data, though, which we call the Semantic Web, would be seen as just starting to take off. We have the standards but still just a small community of true believers who recognize the value of putting data on the Web for people to share and mash up and use at will. And there are other aspects of the online world that are still fairly ?pre-Web.? Social networking sites, for example, are still siloed; you can?t share your information from one site with a contact on another site. Hopefully, in a few years? time, we?ll see that quite large category of social information truly Web-ized, rather than being held in individual lockdown applications.

I think in general it's clear that most bad things come from misunderstanding, and communication is generally the way to resolve misunderstandings, and the Web's a form of communications, so it generally should be good.

In 1989 I delivered a proposal to CERN for the system that went on to become the world wide web. This year, we celebrate the web's 25th birthday. Like the average 25-year-old, the web has been shaped by a vast array of influences -- in fact, it was built through the efforts of millions. So this anniversary is for everyone. We should look proudly on what we've built. And as with most twentysomethings, the web's full potential is just starting to show. A radically open, egalitarian and decentralised platform, it is changing the world, and we are still only scratching the surface of what it can do. Anyone with an interest in the web's future -- and that's everyone, everywhere -- has a role in ensuring it achieves all it can.

It's mine - you can't have it. If you want to use it for something, then you have to negotiate with me. I have to agree, I have to understand what I'm getting in return.

One way to think about the magnitude of the changes to come is to think about how you went about your business before powerful Web search engines. You probably wouldn't have imagined that a world of answers would be available to you in under a second. The next set of advances will have an different effect, but similar in magnitude.

The dream behind the Web is of a common information space in which we communicate by sharing information.

The recommended strategy is to employ 'smart' buying practices to reduce acquisition and support costs, including software asset management, and increase the use of standards-compliant software.

They may call it a home page, but it's more like the gnome in somebody's front yard than the home itself.

Web users ultimately want to get at data quickly and easily. They don't care as much about attractive sites and pretty design.

You affect the world by what you browse.

Anyone who slaps a ?this page is best viewed with Browser X? label on a Web page appears to be yearning for the bad old days, before the Web, when you had very little chance of reading a document written on another computer, another word processor, or another network.

I believe that the future of the web is under threat from some governments that may abuse their powers, some businesses that may try to undermine the open market, and from criminal activity. In recent years we have seen a steady increase in censorship of the web by governments around the world. We've seen a proliferation of corporate walled gardens, excessively punitive laws pertaining to copyright and computer misuse, and attempts to undermine or disregard net neutrality. But mass surveillance, and particularly the reported attempts by intelligence agencies in the US and UK to break commercial encryption systems to make it easier to spy on people, is the most worrying of all, because it could engender a loss of trust and lead to Balkanization of the web. We risk losing all that we have gained from the web so far and all the great advances still to come. The future of the web depends on ordinary people taking responsibility for this extraordinary resource and challenging those who seek to manipulate the web against the public good. The good news is that the web has openness and flexibility woven into its fabric. The protocols and programming languages under the hood -- including URLs, HTTP, HTML, JavaScript and many others -- have nearly all been designed for evolution, so we can upgrade them as new needs, new devices and new business models expose current limitations.

I think IT projects are about supporting social systems - about communications between people and machines. They tend to fail due to cultural issues.

In '93 to '94, every browser had its own flavor of HTML. So it was very difficult to know what you could put in a Web page and reliably have most of your readership see it.

It's possible to live without the Web. It's not possible to live without water. But if you've got water, then the difference between somebody who is connected to the Web and is part of the information society, and someone who (is not) is growing bigger and bigger.

Our rights are being infringed more and more on every side, and the danger is that we get used to it. So I want to use the 25th anniversary for us all to do that, to take the Web back into our own hands and define the Web we want for the next 25 years.

The goal of the Web is to serve humanity. We build it now so that those who come to it later will be able to create things that we cannot ourselves imagine.

The Semantic Web is not a separate Web but an extension of the current one, in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation.

Things can change so fast on the internet.

What happens when I click on a link? Actually, it was a grown-up who asked this very reasonable question. When you understand this, then you will understand the difference between the Internet and the Web. And you will realize that it is all quite simple! :-) When you are reading a web page, the computer isn't showing you everything about the link. Behind the underlined or colored bit of text which you click on is an invisible thing like http://www.w3.org/. Its called a URL. This is the name of the web page to which the link goes. (The web page you are reading has this one: http://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/kids). Behind each link, hidden from you, is the URL of the other web page, the one you'd get to if you followed the link. When you click on a link, your computer takes this URL. It wants to get a copy of the web page. There are a few different ways of doing this. The one I'm going to tell you about is just used for URLs which starthttp: . (This whole recipe I'm going to tell you, which your computer uses for getting web pages, is called the HyperText Transfer Protocol. That's what HTTP stands for. There are other protocols. But this is the most common one. ) If the URL starts with http:, then the computer takes the next bit of the URL, between the // and the /. It might be www.w3.org for example. This is the name of the web server. However, It can't communicate with the web server until it knows its computer number, because the Internet actually works with numbers. (A computer number is actually called its Internet Protocol Address, or IP Address. It is normally written as four numbers with dots, like So there will two stages to this - first, finding out the number of the web server, and then asking the web for a copy of the web page. Your computer makes up a packet of information. An Internet packet is a message, a bit like a short email or a long text message. The packet starts off with the number of the computer the packet is going to, and then the number of the the computer which sent it, and then it has what the packet is about, and then whatever it is one computer is sending to the other. Now all over the Internet there are special computers whose job is to keep a list of computer names and numbers. When your computer is set up, it is set up to know the internet number of one of these. Your computer sends off the packet to it, saying it wants to know the number of www.w3.org. (A computer which can look up computer names -- domain names as they are called -- is called the Domain Name Service (DNS) server in the network preferences if you really want to know. When a DNS server looks up a computer name, it either knows it because it has it in a list, or it just asks another DNS server which knows more names.) How does the packet get there? Simple. Your computer sends it down the ethernet connection or phone line from your computer, or it transmits it by radio to a base station which sends it down some wire. Whatever that wire goes through, eventually it connects to some other computer (maybe one in the cable company, or phone company). The Internet is a net -- really shaped like real net like a fishing net -- of computers all connected together by various cables. Each computer, when it gets a packet, looks at it and sees what computer number it is being sent to. It then just passes it on to the next computer in the net, in the general direction toward its destination. Pretty simple? yes, well, it is simple. The packet gets passed on until it gets to its destination. Typically, a packet might be passed on by more than 10 computers before it arrives. (This way of getting a packet to its destination is called the Internet Protocol(IP)) In this case, the destination was the name server. The name server looks up the number of the computer www.w3.org from its name. Of course the name server knows the number of your computer, because that was in the packet too. So it sends a reply packet to tell you computer the number it needed. Ok. Your computer now knows the number of the web server, www.w3.org. So it goes back to the URL -- remember the thing which started with http:? Lets say the URL behind the link was http://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/FAQ . It has used the www.w3.org bit to find the number of the web server which has a copy of the page. Now it send off a request to that server asking it for the web page. It sends the whole URL, and the server sends back a copy. The only problem is that the web page won't fit in a packet. Packets can only be around 512 bytes - about long enough for a text message of 500 characters. Even the request that your computer sends off can be longer than will fit in a packet. So what happens is the computer just breaks the message into parts, and sends each part in a packet. I told you this isn't rocket science. It just like a television series coming in installments. It also puts in each packet a packet number so that the other computer can make sure its got all the parts and got them in right order. (This method of splitting message sup into packets and putting them back together again has a name, which you don't have to remember. It is Transmission Control Protocol, or TCP. So that's what people mean when they talk about TCP/IP.) So your computer gets back a bunch of packets with bits of the web page in them. It puts them in order and displays them on your screen. There are special codes (called HTML tags) which tell it when to do things like headings and bold and italics and ... oh, of course... links. Yes, every time it finds the HTML tag for a link, it displays the text specially (like blue and underlined) and makes a note of the URL of the linked page. Because at any time, you could click on the link, and it'll be doing this stuff all over again.

You can?t propose that something be a universal space and at the same time keep control of it.

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Berners-Lee, fully Sir Timothy John "Tim" Berners-Lee
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English Computer Scientist, Inventor of the World Wide Web in 1989, Director of the World Wide Web Consortium