Tim Berners-Lee: The Web's Brainchild

By Anbarasan, Ethirajan | UNESCO Courier, September 2000 | Go to article overview

Tim Berners-Lee: The Web's Brainchild


Anbarasan, Ethirajan, UNESCO Courier


A staunch idealist, the British inventor of the World Wide Web is worth more than his weight in gold. Tim Berners-Lee has shunned opportunities in the private sector to captain an international consortium grouping the Web's who's who. His foremost goal: to keep on improving the Web for the common good.

How do you account for the Web's formidable growth in the last 10 years?

The Web initially spread because of existing Internet infrastructure set up during the 1970s. By the time I had the idea for the Web at the end of the 80s, computers in many universities and institutes in the United States and in Europe were already connected to each other by cables exchanging information. So you have to give credit to those pioneers who put together such a network before the Web's arrival.

The Web spread fast because it was decentralized and no one was controlling its growth. The fact that anybody can start a server or run a browser, without having to register with any central authority, is what allowed it to grow rapidly. There were enthusiasts all over the world who realized what the world could be with the Web and directed their efforts at developing it.

Also the Web's openness is a powerful attraction. Everyone can not only read what's on the Web but can also contribute to it. Everybody is in a sense equal. This sense of boundless opportunity also led to its remarkable growth.

Does the Web stand to benefit those traditionally on the margins of technological innovation?

It is obvious that the present imbalance in society is unhealthy for the whole world. But do not look to innovations alone for solving global issues. It is for people to make decisions on how to manage themselves and it requires a lot of effort on all sides to solve various problems. We've had many tools in the past and Internet can be another tool in addressing those challenges.

The basic idea of the Web is that it is an information space through which people can communicate, but communicate in a special way, by sharing their knowledge in a pool. The Web is more of a social creation than a technical one. It has not changed anything fundamentally in the way human beings think, read and communicate with each other. It has given people greater choice than ever before by simply providing information. Advantages of the Web range from enhanced collaboration between people in different countries to reading a newspaper sitting in a remote village.

Though the Web has given us many choices, we still don't know how to use those choices to our advantage. I hope the fact that each individual has more choice now will give us greater power to reformulate our society.

In your book Weaving the Web, you talk about the danger of the Web being controlled by a select group of companies or commercial deeds blocking its growth. What would the consequences be?

The danger is when large companies that sell computers and software effectively start to control what information you receive on the Internet. Companies which offer free computers or Web browsers could prevent a user from utilizing or accessing programmes of their commercial competitors. Even Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can have commercial deals with certain Web sites, making them easier to access than other sites. This is already starting to happen.

On the one hand, people feel it's reasonable for a company to influence your Internet access if they provide you with free computers and software programmes. But on the other, it's really important that the right of the individual to access unbiased information be upheld. The point is that one should not masquerade the other.

I'm not sure to what extent people realize or can measure whether their attempts to access different websites are being affected by commercial concerns. It's also very difficult to find a balance between the right of a company to offer a service which is subsidized and the right of somebody to have unbiased access. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Tim Berners-Lee: The Web's Brainchild
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.