Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Sir Tim Berners-Lee Stars in Olympic Opening Ceremony (zdnet.com)
160 points by avolcano on July 28, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 90 comments

This absolutely had my inner geek exploding in giddiness. It was one thing for the London Olympics to recognize him as a key part of the modern era, but to also place the (same model?) NeXT Cube next to him just topped it off. This made it memorable for me.

It made me very, very happy to see Tim there.

A lot of the media in the UK is very populist and anti-intellectual, celebrating questionable people (pop stars et al.) for their less than desirable achievements.

So it was good to see Tim being given such a platform celebrating his input into the world.

That's why Danny Boyle did such a good job. If the British media had been in charge of the ceremony in could have very easily been a cringeworthy ordeal featuring a cast of z-list celebrities dancing about. The inclusion of Tim Berners-Lee and the NHS section were excellent ideas.

I thought the NHS section was stupid. You might as well as had bin men.

NHS is our largest employer (5th in the world apparently, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17429786 - c.5.8% of the working population when coupled with data here http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lms/labour-market-statistics/f...) and, despite it's failings, is an area the UK have led in (nationalised health care), and an important element of nearly everyone in the UKs life at one time or another.

Refuse collection is worthy and widespread but not really something the UK leads in I feel nor would it likely provide the visuals the designer was aiming for ...

I know the NHS is a huge sacred cow and is fetishised here in the UK, but I'm not sure the rest of the world would care how we pay our doctors and nurses.

If you don't think bin men are important, try living in Naples.

I don't think that's just a UK problem...

Excellent attention to detail by Danny Boyle. They could have had him on any old PC and 90% of the audience wouldn't have noticed.


I noticed that too. As the house was lifting, I pointed out that the computer should be a next cube. If not, they did it wrong.

I realised that the whole event was probably going to be interesting when they had an engineer reading Shakespeare at the start.

NB My personal favourite was the NHS/GOSH/kids-fiction section.

Tim sent this tweet https://twitter.com/timberners_lee/status/228960085672599552

pretty much right at the moment he was revealed, sadly it wasn't from the computer he was using (it was from his iPhone) but a nice touch!

Also a wonder of the modern world: He got phone reception in that heavily crowded stadium.

It should have been an Acorn Archimedes, at CERN all those years ago.

The actual computer he used to create the web was a Next Cube, so that was more historically accurate.

They used Archimedes at CERN? Truly one of the greatest computers of all time.

No credit to NBC, however, who apparently replaced a tribute to the victims of the 7/7 terrorist massacre with a talking head off American Idol, had no idea who Sir Tim was, and censored the first lesbian kiss ever seen on Saudi TV:


yeah, I thought NBC's coverage was horrible. Do they really believe that the majority of the world actually needs _all_ of the imagery explained? I mean, who doesn't know who that lady on the umbrella, flying out of the sky is (for example)?

> I mean, who doesn't know who that lady on the umbrella, flying out of the sky is (for example)?

I actually wonder how many people under 20 know this.

A big Satellite TV distributor once accidently transmitted Italian pornography onto the sets of Saudi Televisions, so I doubt it was the first lesbian kiss seen on TV.

When I saw a NeXTCube by his side, I knew this was going to be a memorable ceremony.

I was really happy to see the attention to detail having the NeXTCube :)

Me too, honestly I'm more interested in watching the NeXTCube than watching the rest of the Olympics.

The Cube certainly had more personality than the US NBC announcers.

The industrial portion ceremony started with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, while the modern portion of the ceremony finished with Tim Berners-Lee. I definitely think that Danny Boyle was drawing a parallel between the two people, and it will be interesting to see if history does the same.

I do not see much of a parallel between the two. Brunel is known for zillions of physical objects, built over decades; TBL is known for only one thing, created in less than two years (probably not as his main project, I guess)

Also, Brunel must have been quite an organizer to get done what he got done; TBL created the web almost alone.

The parallel is their fame. Brunel didn't build the industrial world on his own any-more than TBL built the interweb on his own. Its just good to have heroes.

Surely, fame is insufficient reason to start drawing parallels? If not, what about Brunel vs Phelps or Paris Hilton?

Both men applied their intellect to substantially improve the standard of living for the rest of mankind.

IT angle: the Olympic budget was £2.4bn, this ballooned to £13bn, but surprisingly, it was delivered on time (unlike the project Accenture did for the NHS, £12bn and nothing delivered).

£12bn was spread across several integrators including BT, CSC and Fujitsu, and delivered many successful services - particularly the Spine and PACS. The whole programme failed to deliver on the original goals and cost way too much, but it wasn't a complete loss nor was that the fault of any one supplier.

Does anyone know why it would cost more than 5 times more than the original budget? And how did they manage to reallocate that much resources?

This being the 3rd Olympic event in London, I'm surprised the estimate was that much off.

Most big projects of this nature come in over budget. The reason is the incentives of the politicians coming up with budget estimates.

If they come up with a realistic (high) estimate, the project doesn't get done. That's a political loss - their cronies don't get paid, and they don't get to put their name on a big project. If they come up with an unrealistically low estimate, their cronies get paid and they rarely get voted out of office.

Last time London hosted the Olympics was post-war 1948, on a budget of less than a million pounds (I'm not sure if that figure is adjusted for modern currency or not, but either way it's not much money) - they didn't even build any new buildings for it.

The first, a combination of incompetence (e.g. forgetting they'd have to pay VAT) and corruption. The latter: by getting into debt, that now necessitates cuts to the very things being celebrated, e.g. the NHS.

We spend more on interest on government debt in the UK than we do on defence.

Maybe it has something to do with cost overrun that professor Bent Flyvbjerg researches.

Basically he says that budget estimations are prone to a cognitive fallacy by those with planning powers.

EDIT: added "estimations"

I thought the total was only 9.3bn?

Though that is still massively not "in budget" (which, despite us knowing the figures and many of us being capable of basic arithmetic, some politicians still have the balls to try claim).

Wow, what? How do you even spend 9.3 billion pounds? Did they hire a million people for 10K?

You build an olympic village.

I didn't see the opening ceremony - and not the NeXTCube scene either. Is there a video on YouTube or somewhere else?

Ironic, isnt it, that this celebration of the open and free web is not avaliable for everyone because of licences, and that he at the same time send a message thru twitter, a centralized service. Even sent it from an iPhone, a device that hinders hacking it as much as possible.

But the trusty Pirate Bay have the warez you crave! http://thepiratebay.se/search/olympic*/0/3/0

You can watch the highlightd on the BBC if you have access: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19022259

Thanks for the link but it doesn't appear it's available to my country.

Is there any way for me to watch the "This is for everyone" moment on the Internet, or is it not for me?

His message was a nice warning for us all to work harder to keep the web a thing for people, all people, not corporations.

I guess that keyboard and the monitor are somehow wired to an iPhone.

fitting the scence: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19021660

Long PR story short: RPC was prevalent, that is how you control(led) your stuff remotely. Like Tim. Today, if you'd ask for a NeXT-like toy, you'd be denied were you an average Eastern. But western equivalent asked for it and got one, and put the gopher link address ptr in the reserved field of the text font properties (where things like bold and italics properties are stored) and voilà. You can also hire a cheap student to actually write the web client to be cross platform (its true virtue/value). Thanks to Nicola Pellow, of whom almost nobody knows about. Not to mention Groff, doing his compulsory civil service. Would the "web" have just run on NeXT, it would be long extinct, let alone take off.

On linking and hypertext: all post-war era stuff is spin. The real stuff comes from Belgium:

For ADD-ers: http://youtu.be/qwRN5m64I7Y

The story: http://www.archive.org/details/paulotlet


"How should we make it attractive for them [young people] to spend 5,6,7 years in our field, be satisfied, learn about excitement, but finally be qualified to find other possibilities?" -- H. Schopper


The answer is a nice PR story on the web -- https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Spin_%28publi...

On values at CERN, as a warning for non-western members:

"The cost [...] has been evaluated, taking into account realistic labor prices in different countries. The total cost is X (with a western equivalent value of Y)" [where Y>X]

source: LHCb calorimeters : Technical Design Report

ISBN: 9290831693 http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/494264

Why you are getting downvoted:

Everyone here knows (or should know) that the internet started in the 60s (kinda, 1986 definitely), and WWW was a short project in 1989-1990 by TimBL, which just happened to catch on like wildfire (due to bandwidth increases, and cheap PCs more than anything else).

Tim Berners-Lee invented the first cut of HTTP (GET / POST etc), and got the ball rolling on HTML (which was basically a clone of the 1960s SGML).

Paul Otlet seems to have been something of a visionary (just like Ted Nelson, Project Xanadu's head).

TimBL was just in the right place, at the right time.

But it's silly to say that his only contribution was a few months writing WWW. He also wrote ENQUIRE 10 years before, which was kind of like Apple's HyperCard (1987 - between ENQUIRE and WWW).

There were lots of other Hypertext systems (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypertext#Implementations). But that doesn't mean TimBL was a fraud, simply that the media loves to simplify this kind of thing.

Not quite actually refuting what you said: HTML was certainly based on SGML (the similarity is obvious!), but it never was an SGML application. It only became an SGML application in the spec a couple of years later at the impetuous of DanC — no major HTML consumer has ever used an SGML parser for HTML.

> the internet started in the 60s (kinda, 1986 definitely)

There are three years you can reasonably point to:

1969 was when the ARPANET project was founded by the DoD. This is the kitchen-sink-historian viewpoint: The ARPANET was the first packet-switched network and was certainly the ancestor of the Internet, but very little specific has carried over into the modern day. The main innovation from this early was packet-switching, or dividing up the message into a lot of little packets that are all individually addressed and can each make their own way to their ultimate destination. This provides reliability, simplicity, and economy compared to the phone system.

1977 was when the first gateway was demonstrated: Specifically, it was the first TCP-based transmission between three dissimilar networks. This is the functionalist viewpoint: Both TCP and the heterogeneous network-of-networks concept are essential to the modern Internet. The network-of-networks concept (implemented by gateways) allows different physical networks to share the same data, for example phone lines and Ethernet cables and WiFi. TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) guarantees reliable and in-order transmission of data over unreliable physical networks, mainly by resending packets that got lost. Once you have gateways and TCP, you have the modern Internet. http://www.computerhistory.org/press/30th-anniversary-intern...

1983 was when NCP was ditched for TCP/IP on the ARPANET. This is the most restrictive/pragmatic view: NCP was the underlying protocol suite/software used on the early experimental ARPANET, whereas the TCP/IP protocol suite (as implemented by a lot of different software) is what we use today. NCP was implemented by specialized hardware and would have been prohibitively expensive to replicate anywhere else, whereas the TCP/IP stack has been implemented multiple times for multiple kinds of hardware and on multiple OSes. TCP/IP allowed the Internet to take off.

Hobbs' Internet Timeline is interesting: http://www.zakon.org/robert/internet/timeline/

I am being downvoted, because my assertions (admittedly in unpolished form) aren't backed by popular views (some of which are polished products, Manufacturing Consent) and because I stick to my guns and do my best to warn others about some things that are (not) supposed to happen especially at CERN.

simply that the media loves to simplify this kind of thing.

The media (and the beeb, almost openly since Dr. Kelly) does what it has been "ordered" to do, ie. "maximising opportunity and minimising threat":


ps: Enquire was a Gutenberg project alike of a book (read digital form), which is admitted by TimBL. But you are right: information systems existed for a long time, and presumably will for a long time.

> I am being downvoted, because my assertions (admittedly in unpolished form)

You're being downvoted because you keep reposting (word-for-word) the same nonsensical rant on HN[0] and various other places around the web. Perhaps you could tidy it up between now and the next time you repost it so that we can understand your argument.

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3842382

I've reread this post three times and it's still complete gibberish to me. Can someone explain it?

'Create' is a crank is probably the simplest explanation.

I've been going through Create's profile trying to figure out if he's a crank, or just not a native speaker and overexcited. He seems like he's usually much more fluent, lucid and insightful. Still not 100% sure, but it's disappointing to see a hint of such interesting dissent, stated so invitingly cryptically, be casually dismissed and ridiculed.

I think he may have a legitimate point to discuss. This old comment of his gives a clue as to what he's on about:

"""Berner was looking at RPC as his dayjob to give control commands to machines. What Berner did, was to use the Interface Builder's precursor on the NeXT he got as a toy to put a gopher-like link into the text properties field, where the font boldness, size ...and colour and underline were. This was quite graphical programming, and not world-wide at the time (NeXT was an expensive toy). Hardly an innovation. And not everybody was allowed to toy around -- certainly not western equivalents.

Nobody has really heard of Groff, Pellow, Nielsen and the rest, who made it work multiplatform, over the command-line, etc. ie. world-wide. Nobody was astonished by them back then, because what they were doing was nothing special: several such systems existed already both commercial and academic. They were the cheap students, whose work allowed it to be opened up and given away without charge. WWW grew like it did because of two reasons: it was free of charge, because it was actually made by cheap and disposable students, and the then changing climate of the deregulation of the internet, of which some companies ie. Vermeer, Netscape could take early advantage of.

CERN likes cheap students' work, and sell if off as stellar examples of innovation by CERN. Read Facts and Mysteries in Elementary Particle Physics by Veltman if you feel to downvote this because of CERN."""

-- https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4046835

"CERN likes cheap students' work, and sell if off as stellar examples of innovation by CERN. "

And this is different from all other labs... how?

Mr Bean made an appearance as a keyboard player at the London 2012 opening ceremony.

I honestly thought this comment was generated using a markov chain. If it isn't, I suggest strongly that you work on your writing.

Don't listen to (ie. read) me. This writing was never supposed to be an essay to argue for or against something. It is an almost raw braindump: just a set of links so you can do your own research and make up your mind on your own.

It isn't for pleasing anybody in eloquence, but to warn.

Hint: comments are for communicating stuff to people. Posting a braindump and pretty much saying 'just figure out what I meant for yourself' is both rude and annoying.

Personally I didn't open any of the links. But thanks for trying to educate me all the same.

I don't even know what you're trying to say. That TBL is a fraud? Why so bitter?

Having single-handedly invented WWW is a nonsense, put a failed physicist aside reinventing himself. Not to mention [S]GML, the stuff wired though using RPC. Claiming credit for other's hard work and even visions without attribution is even worse, especially in science ("Institute for Web Science"? wtf). There have been lots of prior art graphical networked markup hypertext systems, ie. Xerox, Walker's Symbolics Document Examiner etc. Having used the interface builder to dump the stuff coming from the network?


I am bitter because of the manipulative sociopaths abusing their position and power.

So you're angry because others did similar work before TBL, and because TBL is the one who got famous, you think that he is a manipulative sociopath. I see.

Clearly none of the people involved before had the spark of whatever it takes to turn it from an interesting project into something that sparked the imagination of everyone around them by giving it it's essential context. For some reason you don't seems to see that as being valuable. I see it as another form of genius.

"I am bitter because of the manipulative sociopaths abusing their position and power."

I guess your whole plan to get rich off of Videotex and the Prodigy online service just didn't work out, because of that meddling TBL.

> Today, if you'd ask for a NeXT-like toy, you'd be denied were you an average Eastern

An average Eastern what? Very, very few people anywhere got a NeXT system.

> the gopher link address ptr

Gopher had its chance, but the University of Minnesota thought it would be reasonable to charge licensing fees. The WWW won for multiple reasons, and that was a big one early on.

You really need to do some research.

Very, very few people anywhere got a NeXT system. ...and therefore has little relevance to something dispersed World Wide.

Thanks for your kind advice: I did my fair amount of "research"[1] and therefore had my fair share of TBL-s western colleagues too in the process, calendaring theory included.

You are right: WWW won for multiple reasons. First and foremost, they could afford to give it away for free, since it was produced by cheap disposable labour. And it also won, because of a change in legislation in the U.S.A., and those "analysts" who caught early wind of it wound up well (see Ferguson from Vermeer tech.: his book is also a nemesis to the Silicon Valley Tune). Even better, look into IB's story. The French lisper never got the real credit he deserves. Even Groff and BL have trouble remembering his name. You are picking on the wrong person.

[1] "what this thing called PhD actually is" -- http://pgbovine.net/PhD-memoir-comments.htm

> Very, very few people anywhere got a NeXT system. ...and therefore has little relevance to something dispersed World Wide

Obviously untrue, given that the WWW was developed on a NeXT system.

> First and foremost, they could afford to give it away for free, since it was produced by cheap disposable labour.

I doubt TimBL was starving in a garret when he wrote the first WWW software; it could be given away because CERN had funding that had nothing to do with selling software, especially not software that solved a problem everyone up to that point thought had been solved already (with Gopher and FTP), or would be solved another way entirely (with Xanadu).

What do you want to say with the last four paragraphs? That's value as in monetary value, i.e. about the costs of the calorimeter system described in the report, taking into account labor costs in different countries. It has nothing to do with the other meaning of value, i.e. how the contributions of "non-western members" are valued.

Racism is still pervasive in western countries, so it's certainly possible – my guess is likely – that it plays some role even at CERN, but what you are quoting there is no evidence for racism. That's an absurd interpretation.

Do not think, that value as in monetary value just stays in a spreadsheet cell at HR. The evaluation has consequences in all other evaluations, peer evaluations etc. It does contribute to the evaluation of contributions (ie. CHEP).

Myself should be enough evidence. Hence my bitterness.

Maybe your contributions are devalued because they're incoherent?

Drugs are bad, mmk?

So, is the British media claiming TimBL (and, by extension, the UK) invented the Internet?

Um, no, he invented the web.

> Um, no, he invented the web.

I know that. It seems fewer and fewer others do.

Also, condescension works incredibly badly when you clearly did not read what you were responding to.

the television caption here said "Inventor of the World Wide Web"

another cool things, the NeXT Cube was live on the web at the time and he tweeted from it.

Edit: someone just replied to me on twitter and mentioned that it was actually the Cube that he used at CERN, taken out of a museum for the ceremony.

This is the tweet that was sent out during the ceremony while he was on stage:


although it says 'via Twitter for iPhone' :)

Actually, I don't think it was really running.

At least, judging by the photos I've seen (http://cdn-static.zdnet.com/i/story/70/00/001744/berners-lee...) the monitor was shining bright yellow, when in reality they are greyscale monitors with a bluish cast. I think the monitor was a shell, fitted with a lamp to illuminate TBL from that side.

Perhaps the keyboard was wired up to a modern laptop or tablet, or some custom system tied in with the LED system at the stadium. Most likely, it was automated for precision and correctness, and he was just miming the typing.

Which is fine, IMHO, it's good stagecraft. Voldemort and the parachuting Queen weren't real either. The rest of the light show would have been preprogrammed, so it would make sense to do the same with the message written on the LED system.

But it was definitely a Cube, NeXT keyboard, NeXT mouse, and either a modified NeXT monochrome monitor or a close facsimile. There's a lot to be said for that, given how much easier it would have been to use, say, an iPad than a full Cube system - and an iPad would be vastly more recognizable to the audience, as well.

No, the Queen parachuting was definitely real.

Its because she eats McDonalds and drinks Coca-cola that she has the physical prowess to pull off such a stunt.

I know, I'm British and have been paying attention to the carefully crafted messages from our Olympic Overseers for the past year. Open your eyes and you too can learn the truth...

I'm pretty sure it wasn't the actual NeXT he used. That is in a museum at CERN (where I work at the moment). I can check today by going to the museum, but it was there a few days ago when I showed some visitor friends around.

You wrote that the British media was claiming Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet. During the opening ceremony, they clearly referred to him as the inventor of the World Wide Web. I'm not quite sure what jonhendry misread.

> You wrote that the British media was claiming Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet.

No, I asked if they were claiming that. As in, I asked a question. Since when is that equivalent to making a claim?

In that case, no, it's the US media doing that.

Your question implied the British media was claiming Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet, otherwise you wouldn't have asked it. I never said you made the claim.

The bottom line is, TBL's appearance in the opening ceremony clearly labelled him as the inventor of the WWW.

> Your question implied

Not that I can see, no.

To most people the web is the internet, it's only us geeks who know the difference

To some extent. While things like e-mail are getting harder for non-experts to distinguish from web content, I think many kids understand that World of Warcraft isn't the web.

No, the web. The Internet is something different. one would hope you knew at least that much before attempting to post on this site.

No, the subtitle said pretty clearly that Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. I think confusing that with the Internet has nothing to do with the UK boosting their role in popularizing the Internet (since media outlets all over the world get it wrong all the time) and everything with many people not understanding the Internet.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact