Sir Tim Berners-Lee is the recipient of the 2016 ACM A.M. Turing Award for inventing the World Wide Web, the first web browser and the fundamental protocols and algorithms allowing the Web to scale.
The following are quotes from Sir Tim Berners-Lee supplied by the ACM.
On the success of the World Wide Web:
“The web scaled because it was decentralized and universal. There was no central point of control, no hub, one did not have to line up for a registry and anyone could set up a website.
On the pick-up of the web:
“The very first server logs show that the load of the World Wide Web increased by a factor of 10 every year, doubled every few months. If you plotted the growth on a logarithmic [powers of 10] scale, it was absolutely a classic exponential explosion. The explosion was like a continuous sort of “big bang” to be in the middle of, and there was no particular, single point when it took off. But, there was a crucial point where users had to decide between the World Wide Web and other competing systems that were undergoing a similar exponential growth.”
On being Royalty-Free
“There was a certain critical point when the developers of another, competing, system announced that they might possibly, under some limited circumstances, ask for royalties. At that point, everybody using that system panicked, whether they were working for big companies or working in their garages.”
“At that, the use of that other system plunged; the Web continued to grow. “Open source” wasn’t a term back then, but CERN’s agreement [on April 1993] to have the World Wide Web be royalty-free was critical to our success and has been very important ever since. The royalty-free nature is essential to the crazy creative innovative world which all kinds of people have built on the web.
On the future of the World Wide Web:
“Interestingly, 2017 is a funny time to be thinking about the future of the World Wide Web, because for two decades I would have answered basically, all we need for the web are powerful, open, royalty-free standards, and the underlying Internet must be neutral, free of discrimination commercial or political. As long as we don’t have censorship; as long as we don’t have spying; and if we have a neutral network for the internet; then you can rely on humanity to do wonderful things with the Web.”
“But now, looking at recent events, we have very dysfunctional systems on the Web.
While it has achieved tremendous strides, the Web isn’t uniquely affirmed as a medium for the spread of truth and goodwill; it is also a medium for the spread of untruths and hatred.”
“You find systems in which you can see mathematically that untruths will spread better than truths. So, in other words, the systems that have been built on top of the Web now become things that we need to hold accountable for being positive, constructive spaces for doing our science, for conducting democracy. Because science is how we figure out what to believe, and democracy is how we figure out what to do, supporting these two is of fundamental importance.”
“These challenges are not about the underlying Web infrastructure; they’re about the superstructure; they’re about the social networks and user generated content. We really need to analyze the social web, and design and redesign these spaces so that they are more constructive places.”
You can read more about this in a recent blog I wrote on the Web Foundation website:http://webfoundation.org/2017/03/web-turns-28-letter/
On his next focus:
“I wear lots of different hats.
At W3C, the global web standards body, the focus on making the web more powerful.
At the Open Data Institute in London, it is about making the UK hum more efficiently, and the government more transparent, with better and better open government data – and in fact data across a whole spectrum from private to public.
At MIT, the projects I have in the lab are all about trying to design new Web architectures that are more enabling. We have a project called “Solid” (solid.mit.edu) in which we are designing a world in which you control all your data, and the user gets huge benefits from being able to control who has access to it, and you get a huge benefit from being able to do amazing things with it.”
“At the Web Foundation, our focus is on making the Web something which is pro-human, and helps counter inequality. Now about half the world use the web, there are two aspects: one is, with ideas like a4ai.org, The Alliance for Affordable Internet, trying to make sure it as affordable as possible for the other half to get online, while other projects look at making sure that the those who do use the web have the web we want – a open, private, neutral — because it is now considered a human right.