Up the stairs and turn right, there you’ll find the source of the web

Tuesday, 13 July, 2010

David Galbraith, in conjunction with Tim Berners-Lee, tracks down the exact spot where the world wide web was first devised.

I wrote the proposal, and developed the code in Building 31. I was on the second (in the European sense) floor, if you come out of the elevator (a very slow freight elevator at the time anyway) and turn immediately right you would then walk into one of the two offices I inhabited. The two offices (which of course may have been rearranged since then) were different sizes: the one to the left (a gentle R turn out of the elevator) benefited from extra length as it was by neither staircase nor elevator. The one to the right (or a sharp R turn out of the elevator) was shorter and the one I started in. I shared it for a long time with Claude Bizeau. I think I wrote the memo there.

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The double slashes in URL weren’t really necessary after all

Friday, 16 October, 2009

Tim Berners-Lee somewhat regrets incorporating double slashes into URLs but they seemed like a good idea at the time.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, has confessed that the // in a web address were actually “unnecessary”.

Search engines have somewhat mitigated the issue anyway… who types a URL in full anymore when a website can be accessed simply by clicking a search engine result.

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the open Web

Friday, 11 July, 2008

Web “creator” Sir Tim Berners-Lee has called on governments, scientists and businesses to work to ensure the Web remains true to its original purpose…

“The development of the Web will have major social, economic and political implications for our future,” said Sir Tim. “At its core must be a commitment to maintain the principles of openness as a platform for the sharing of information,” he added.

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Tim Berners-Lee, the Web, and “creative connectivity”

Friday, 13 June, 2008

Tim Berners-Lee would like to see the Web becoming a repository of “partly formed ideas” that could eventually assist in solving some of humanity’s larger problems, by forming a “trail of thinking”, that people could progressively contribute thoughts to until, through collective thinking, a solution emerges.

It is an idea he refers to as “creative connectivity”.

“Now just suppose, given that we have those huge problems out there to solve in health care, [such as] looking for a cure for AIDS or cancer, that part of the answer might be in my brain and another part might be in somebody else’s brain. So how can we make the Web a substrate so that all those half-formed ideas out there [are connected]?” In the future, the Web should be able to connect people’s ideas in such a way that one person could store his partly formed ideas and leave a trail of his thinking for other people trying to solve the same problem, Berners-Lee said.

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An Oral History of the Internet

Friday, 6 June, 2008

While browsing Vanity Fair earlier, I spotted this fascinating article on the history of the web, from the time of its inception in 1958, interestingly part of the US response to the launch of Soviet satellite Sputnik, right on through to user-generated content and social networks.

Needless to say a lot ground is covered, taking in the browser wars, the advent of Google, and the rise of the iPod and iTunes, and includes this quote from Robert Cailliau, who worked with Tim Berners-Lee in 1991, to lay the foundations of the World Wide Web.

The Web is actually a coming together of three technologies, if you like: the hypertext, the personal computer, and the network. So, the network we had, and the personal computers were there, but people didn’t use them, because they didn’t know what to use them for, except maybe for a few games. What is hypertext? It is a method of giving a text more depth, structuring it, and letting the computer help you explore it. Links, like we know today – you see some blue underlined word and you click on it and it takes you somewhere else. That’s the simplest definition of hypertext.

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Google could be superseded, says web inventor

Friday, 14 March, 2008

Google could be superseded, says web inventor

Tim Berners-Lee talks about the rise of the Semantic web and the next phase of the web’s development, which apparently doesn’t leave much room for current search engine technology.

“Using the semantic web, you can build applications that are much more powerful than anything on the regular web,” Mr Berners-Lee said. “Imagine if two completely separate things – your bank statements and your calendar – spoke the same language and could share information with one another. You could drag one on top of the other and a whole bunch of dots would appear showing you when you spent your money. “If you still weren’t sure of where you were when you made a particular transaction, you could then drag your photo album on top of the calendar, and be reminded that you used your credit card at the same time you were taking pictures of your kids at a theme park. So you would know not to claim it as a tax deduction.”

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Thanks, Gutenberg, but we’re too pressed for time to read

Friday, 1 February, 2008

Thanks, Gutenberg – but we’re too pressed for time to read

The rise of print “technology” had far more profound consequences than many of us would think. At the time Gutenberg invented the print press in the 15th century, there was no easy way of recording and sharing ideas and information on a mass basis.

Once a method of producing large quantities of print material became available, social and intellectual change, such as the Reformation, and the ascent of modern science, was not far behind.

Today’s Gutenberg is Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web. In the 17 years since he launched his technology on an unsuspecting world, he has transformed it. Nobody knows how big the web is now, but estimates of the indexed part hover at around 40 billion pages, and the ‘deep web’ hidden from search engines is between 400 and 750 times bigger than that. These numbers seem as remarkable to us as the avalanche of printed books seemed to Brandt. But the First Law [of Technology] holds we don’t know the half of it, and it will be decades before we have any real understanding of what Berners-Lee hath wrought.

The First Law of Technology holds that the short term effects of new technologies are over estimated, while the their long term influences are underestimated.

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