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Tim Berners-Lee: Long Live The Web (scientificamerican.com)
90 points by ilamont on Nov 19, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 25 comments

The openness of the web, just as the openness of the Americas (when first discovered), will inevitably turn into a demarcation of borders and "property" dispute. The first settlers here had free reign, the land was truly "open" just as the Internet was truly "open".

When it is so open that eventually the masses adopt it - it goes from being an open entity to a closed entity because diversity of opinion is so wide amongst the masses that it [the public as an entity] seeks to control it and manage it (movement from expansion/openness to contraction/closedness). An interesting example of social entropy.

Where will open, free, and innovative grounds be then? On the leading edge. http://gnunet.org, FreeNet, VPNs, and even privately wired LANs are the best examples I can think of right now but who know what the future will bring? Maybe the next wave of open and neutral communications will be in the growth of the DSN (Deep Space Network) as humans slowly take to the stars? I see true open horizons less and less on the web now and a resurgence of the explorer taking to places untouched by the majority; I see that most in privatized space, space tourism, and hopefully space colonization.

You will rarely ever find true "open" or "neutral" proclivities amongst the many - you can only find it amongst Individuals of whom the hacker community is largely made up of. Politicians serve the masses and not the Individual, you will never get the politicians to embody leading edge ideas because they will never be elected since mass-consciousness by definition cannot be leading edge.

I'm repeating myself now. I just wanted to say: I do wish the web could stay as open as it has been or was even ten years ago but as more people adopt it and use it the less open it becomes; look for the ability to share knowledge and information anonymously through software like GNUnet and FreeNet or VPN or LAN networks. Look for the next wave of revolutionary ideas, platforms, and social change to occur through leading edge spaces. The Internet is no longer leading edge to those that have been riding this wave - look for the next one! (for me, the next one is (again) privatized space)

Land is ultimately a bounded resource, and staking out property is a zero-sum game. the web is, for all intents and purposes, unbounded.

I agree what you said. But the total time spent on Internet of all human being will be bounded, not infinite. You can only have 7 x 18 billion person-hours a day to use different services. What you have to compete is the time that users uses your service.

Of course I maybe wrong in above statement. The statement doesn't include all automated computing processes. Then the limit may be much larger to be considered as unlimited.

so... Governments will restrict the web to steal market share from various web apps? I think you may have misinterpreted what they're talking about. :P

pretty sad to see this article split onto six pages and surrounded by adverts.

In fact the more at look at the site, the more principles it violates - on page 2 Tim's talking about using good URL structures.... unlike http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=long-live-t...

It really is worth the read though. Excellent submission.

I did some URL hacking and came up with a full-page non-ad version here:


there is also a print button :)

not for nothing of course; i usually look for these first.

Me too, unfortunately it doesn't work on this article for me though.

Open standards are nice, and Javascript is in many ways better than Java or C# (but not better than F#, for example). But I am a professional programmer, and from my point of view Javascript is still a boring mess. Heterogeneity is the key, and native apps will rule. After all, that's what protocols are for, to mediate between different entities. I want to be able to create content that is not limited to technologies imposed by the W3C.

it's definitely a mess (i distinctly recall recoiling from my keyboard when i realized an array of numbers was being sorted lexically), but what do you mean by boring?

For example, I continuously found myself often type stuff like var me = this ...some local function body that uses me...

Probably "boring" is the wrong word. "Tiring" is more to the point.

I can't help getting shocked by the fact that "the father of the Web" is a 55 year old guy.

It's not so surprising given that his initial idea for the Web was proposed in 1989.

Given that he created the original proposal to create web technology in 1990 it's hardly surprising.

The fact that this shit is just 20 years old is precisely what shocks me, at times.

I totally agree. I recently read Steve Wozniak's autobiography and Richard Stallman's biography and came to the same realization. It is pretty amazing that a lot of these people responsible for where we are with computers and the internet are all still alive and are potentially people you can actually have conversations with.

Indeed, the fact that I've been using it since late '92 shocks me even more!

Well, internet has numbed my ability to be shocked any more.

I was born around the time the web was invented. However, linux was also born when I was also born.

We're in good company.

Great as always, but Tim says: Open Standards Drive Innovation

These standards aren't really that open because of the committees, large companies, and bureaucracy surrounding them. And major languages we use like PhP, Python, Ruby, Java, etc. (with exception of ANSI C#, Javascript (ECMAScript) and some others) weren't successful because they were based on standards. I use FF (which was touted as standards compliant all during its transition from Mozilla from Netscape) all the time, but if it weren't for Netscape folding and IE sucking, it probably would have had much less market share than it does. I think standards are good, but the red tape slows us down. Put the specs and their reference implementations on Github (if it doesn't go down) and fork them at will, then maybe we'll see some real progress. Successful viruses mutate frequently.

In the article he states, "today, at its 20th anniversary". This caused me to double-check the date of publication, which is November 22nd. Ignoring for a second that TBL has transcended space and time to the point that he can publish from the future, this is the only place I can find a reference to the exact day the web went live. Wikipedia's best date is, "by Christmas 1990, Berners-Lee had built all the tools necessary for a working Web." [1] The next date it mentions is August 6, 1991, which is when he posted a public summary of the project.

Does anyone have any good information on a more precise day we could say the web went live? I want to know when best to have a party.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Wide_Web

Scientific American is a monthly print serial. I assume "today" means the official December publication date.

Would a form of protest against internet filtering take the shape of misinformation?

For example, it has been argued that the label of Sex Offender has been so misused, that the lists comprised are becoming of little value. Same for No Fly lists. This data may be from my (admittedly) very narrow list of sources, but for the sake of argument, please bear with me.

Using this same idea, adding government websites and commercial company websites to the COICA blacklists would help devalue such filtering, just as adding legislature's households to the Hadopi/Digital Economy Act's lists would devalue them...

If internet access can be moved to the power lines, would it be easier to have a non-throttled, non-filtered net? No, I guess that would likewise be subject to legislation-induced choking...


For whatever it's worth, the print button didn't work for me in Chrome and Safari on OSX 10.6.5.

I was, however, able to get a clean read/printout using Safari's built-in Reader and then printing from there.

The web did not spread quickly from the grassroots up. TBL worked hard selling it. Eventually it had its own momentum, but he makes it sound easy.

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