Those concepts go hand in hand. You can't cause change without criticism and without criticism you don't want change.
This rant is well written, well sourced, and rather on the nose. It has the potential to inspire change.
No, I criticize the idea of un-constructive criticism especially in cases where the solution is non-obvious (my second point). Constructive criticism would have been, for example, "here's five things that should have been done differently and here's why they would have helped." If you cannot inspire change in an issue with constructive criticism then all you're doing is throwing dice and hoping the change will be positive since you have no idea what that change should actually be.
Societal progress is the work of people working together, each contributing their part. We need some people to point out problems and other people to fix them. There's zero reason they need to be the same person.
This isn't well written (mind you, I'm not talking about the rest of the article which I don't have a strong opinion about):
> He even considered naming his invention “TIM” (ostensibly an acronym for “The Information Mine”) before mercifully settling on the less solipsistic “World Wide Web”. In 1994, he founded the World Wide Web Consortium (= W3C) and became its director, a position he has held since.
That's a plain and simple personal attack. An unnecessary one as well. What is inherently wrong with naming something after yourself which you invented? I mean, isn't that what companies do as well? Apple Lisa? Branding such as calling all your products Microsoft <insert name>?
(At first I got puzzled by TIM as for me it stands for The Incredible Machine from around that time.)
> Berners-Lee wrote the code for a trio of protocols, and named them HTTP fnord (hypertext transfer protocol), HTML (hypertext markup language) and U.D.I.'s (universal document identifiers). U.D.I.'s eventually became U.R.L.'s, or uniform resource locators, the abbreviation that most of today's Web fnord users recognize. For the name of the system itself, he toyed with a few ideas. First came Mine of Information, or MOI, which seemed too egocentric. Then came the Information Mine, or TIM, which was even worse. Finally, he settled on World Wide Web.
The second part is well-known public information that is not contradicted.
Where is the personal attack, exactly? It sounds like you're embarrassed on TBL's behalf, but why? Didn't all of us, at one point, imagine being curator of our own library of information? I remember the imperious feelings that came with being able to command the computers to catalog data at my whims.
In the Please Go Away letter it starts with multiple personal attacks:
> Count me among those who had hoped that when Tim Berners-Lee appeared in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London, it would be a victory lap just before riding off into the sunset. No such luck. At the ceremony, Berners-Lee typed the words “this is for everyone”, but he’s always had a strangely monarchic view of his own role. He even considered naming his invention “TIM” (ostensibly an acronym for “The Information Mine”) before mercifully settling on the less solipsistic “World Wide Web”. In 1994, he founded the World Wide Web Consortium (= W3C) and became its director, a position he has held since.
"he’s always had a strangely monarchic view of his own role" isn't proven with anything, except for the acronyms. MOI was left out in the Letter (I'm aware of the meaning of moi in French). Furthermore, you could say the same about other companies and leaders. The information the Letter starts with, should stand on its own shoulders. It is weak to start with such facts, surround it with certain words such as "monarch", "but", etc. to form a narrative.
We need cohesive and reasoned guidance more than ever. A technology once hailed for enabling free and open discourse has become the key tool for suppressing that same speech. Meanwhile, totally unmoderated forums have become a liability, and practically unhostable, mostly thanks to bad-faith actors. Does anyone posess a torch, unfiltered by money or idology, no matter how dim, to lead us out of this without leaving our humanity at the step?
I don't know the answers, but I feel like asking passionate people not to speak up, is not one of them.
PS Matthew is also the author of the excellent Practical Topography. https://practicaltypography.com/
You may disagree but it certainly seems worthy of discussion.
I’m disappointed in whoever called this “flamebait” and who suggested this be flagged. Stopping discussion on a valid topic is not cool.
We try to avoid posts that are personal attacks, not necessarily because we owe celebrities better, but because this kind of internet denunciation degrades the community, even if it also makes some good points. I think that's probably why users flagged it.
Trying to prevent the community from degrading is more important than any individual post, as it's the container that supports good discussion in the first place. The container is fragile. It's more fragile than it seems, because much of the work to prevent it from falling apart isn't visible.
Posts that feature indignation over information are always bad for curious conversation. When the indignation is directed against an individual, that's a multiplier of badness, because it brings out worse in others.
In the tech world recently, there have been plenty of calls for, say, Sundar Pichai or Mark Zuckerberg to resign. And those have been featured on HN. What's the difference here? If you're a Powerful Person in Tech (or industry or politics), that's just part of the gig.
"It sucks to have haters, but every founder who now runs a huge company faced this for a long time."
In this case, the author cites facts about Berners-Lee and his performance at the W3C. Each one is supported by a link to evidence. I don't agree with the author's conclusion. But if this community is so "fragile" that it needs to bury fact-based arguments, wowsers.
We don't need the call-out culture on HN. If the facts in the article are important, someone else will write a factual article that doesn't have a side channel of putdowns and snark. Then we can have a thread based on that article instead.
I suppose I should add that I have no opinion about Tim's role in web governance, only about Hacker News.
The other point is whether the flagging is legit, or being influenced by special interests. If the same X number of users were flagging everything related to Y, there is no way to know under the current system.
You fact you;ve just types what you have means you absolutely do owe the fucking fossil something, you ingrate.
Tim invented three protocols that many people frequently use: HTTP, HTML, and URI/URL. He wnt out of his way to make sure these technologies were not encumbered by patents and made the specs and prototype code freely available, with no profit going to himself.
Do you not think this is deserving of some respect? He doesn't deserve the OP's personal attacks.
That said, his attempts to reclaim the web to its original frontier state don't seem possible. There are innumerable reasons why; network effects and entrenched interests being the least of them.
What's the problem?
I don't agree with the author's take. But Tim Berners-Lee is not above criticism. These are fair questions to ask about his motivations and track record.
Moreover Berners-Lee can put his decades of celebrity behind his views, and get access to megaphones like the New York Times. There is no conceivable threat posed by this dude and his Tinyletter page.
Sorry HN mods, think you got this one wrong.
See also https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21651530.
He gave a talk recently, broadcast by the BBC, which he used to raise the issues we have with tracking, click-bait, and misinformation. His audience looked to comprise quite influential people.
The fact is he saw the potential his software had; that the combination of server, browser, and markup could revolutionise the world, even before anyone was using it.
It would seem foolish to silence someone like that, and careless to advise people not to listen. I'm certainly not saying that we accept his opinions without question, and I'm sure he would agree.
How would video streaming companies “protect” their content without DRM? Or is the debate that they shouldn’t be able to?
Having the ability to stream directly in the browser is definitely a good thing IMHO.