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Tim Berners-Lee (born 8 June 1955) is the inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium, which oversees its continued development.
- We should work toward a universal linked information system, in which generality and portability are more important than fancy graphics techniques and complex extra facilities. The aim would be to allow a place to be found for any information or reference which one felt was important, and a way of finding it afterwards. The result should be sufficiently attractive to use that it the information contained would grow past a critical threshold, so that the usefulness the scheme would in turn encourage its increased use. The passing of this threshold accelerated by allowing large existing databases to be linked together and with new ones.
- "Information Management: A Proposal" (March 1989), the original proprosal for the software project at CERN that became the World Wide Web.
- This project is experimental and of course comes without any warranty whatsoever. However, it could start a revolution in information access.
- "WorldWideWeb wide-area hypertext app available" (19 August 1991), the announcement of the first WWW hypertext browser on the Usenet newsgroup comp.sys.next.announce.
- An [hypertext] encyclopaedia will be an overall attempt by the knowledgeable, the learned societies or anyone else, to represent the state-of-the-art in their field. An encyclopaedia will be a living document, as up to date as it can be, instantly accessible at any time. It will contain carefully authored explanations and summaries of the subject, as well as computer-generated indexes of literature. A reference to a paper from the encyclopaedia conveys authority and acceptance by academic society. A measure of a paper’s standing may be conveyed by the number of links it is away from an encyclopaedia.
- "Electronic publishing and visions of hypertext", Physics World, June 1992.
- I just had to take the hypertext idea and connect it to the TCP and DNS ideas and — ta-da!— the World Wide Web.
- The fact that we're all connected, the fact that we've got this information space — does change the parameters. It changes the way people live and work. It changes things for good and for bad. But I think, in general, it's clear that most bad things come from misunderstanding, and communication is generally the way to resolve misunderstandings — and the Web's a form of communications — so it generally should be good. But I think, also, we have to watch whether we preserve the stability of the world — like we don't want to watch this phenomenon like the stock market becoming unstable when it became computerized, for example.
We need to look at the whole society and think, "Are we actually thinking about what we're doing as we go forward, and are we preserving the really important values that we have in society? Are we keeping it democratic, and open, and so on?"
- I don't believe in the sort of eureka moment idea. I think it's a myth. I'm very suspicious that actually Archimedes had been thinking about that problem for a long time. And it wasn't that suddenly it came to him.
- Web 1.0 was all about connecting people. It was an interactive space, and I think Web 2.0 is of course a piece of jargon, nobody even knows what it means. If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to people. But that was what the Web was supposed to be all along.
- Anyone who has lost track of time when using a computer knows the propensity to dream, the urge to make dreams come true and the tendency to miss lunch.
- Now, if someone tries to monopolize the Web, for example pushes proprietary variations on network protocols, then that would make me unhappy.
- Almost everything which you needed to know in your daily life was written down somewhere. And at the time, in the 1980s, it was almost certainly written down on a computer somewhere. It was very frustrating that people's effort in typing it in was not being used when, in fact, if it could only be tied together and made accessible, everything would be so much easier for everybody.
- [[Tim Berners-Lee], "The creator of the World Wide Web, TIM BERNERS-LEE" "Fresh Air", NPR, (February 7, 1996); as quoted by Julian Ring “30 years ago, one decision altered the course of our connected world”, NPR, (April 30, 2023)
- The web setting out as something which was universal, something which anybody could use, I felt was very important. It's no good having something which will run on any platform if, in fact, there is a proprietary hold on it.
- "The creator of the World Wide Web, TIM BERNERS-LEE" "Fresh Air", NPR, (February 7, 1996); as quoted by Julian Ring “30 years ago, one decision altered the course of our connected world”, NPR, (April 30, 2023)
- Anyone who slaps a ‘this page is best viewed with Browser X’ label on a Web page appears to be yearning for the bad old days, before the Web, when you had very little chance of reading a document written on another computer, another word processor, or another network.
- Technology Review (July 1996)
- Cool URIs don't change
- It is the duty of a Webmaster to allocate URIs which you will be able to stand by in 2 years, in 20 years, in 200 years.
- I don't mind there being biased information out there. The important thing is that you should know, when you're on the web, whether you're looking at biased information or not.
- “The creator of the Web, TIM BERNERS-LEE” “Fresh Air”, NPR, (Sep 16, 1999)
- The question, when it's posed like that, it implies that you really only measure people's value by their net worth. People are what they've done, what they say, what they stand for, rather than what they happen to have in the bank.
- The Diane Rehm Show, “Tim Berners-Lee “Weaving the Web” (Harper San Francisco)”, (Oct 14, 1999)
- When you go out there, the webpages you see are written by people. You're looking at a certain sub-set of the churning mass of humanity out there. So it's not that the web itself is an animal, but it's that society is this really exciting, decentralized thing, and the web, fortunately, is more or less able to echo it.
- “Talk of the Nation”, (September 1, 2002) as quoted by Julian Ring “30 years ago, one decision altered the course of our connected world”, NPR, April 30, 2023
- Legend has it that every new technology is first used for something related to sex or pornography. That seems to be the way of humankind.
- When I invented the web, I didn't have to ask anyone's permission. Now, hundreds of millions of people are using it freely. I am worried that that is going end in the USA. … Democracy depends on freedom of speech. Freedom of connection, with any application, to any party, is the fundamental social basis of the Internet, and, now, the society based on it.
Let's see whether the United States is capable as acting according to its important values, or whether it is, as so many people are saying, run by the misguided short-term interested of large corporations.
I hope that Congress can protect net neutrality, so I can continue to innovate in the internet space. I want to see the explosion of innovations happening out there on the Web, so diverse and so exciting, continue unabated.
- The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.
- What's very important from my point of view is that there is one web … Anyone that tries to chop it into two will find that their piece looks very boring.
- The Web does not just connect machines, it connects people.
- This is for everyone
- Tweeted during his participation in the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony
- We’ve lost a fighter. We’ve lost somebody who put huge energy into righting wrongs. There are people around the world who take it on themselves to just try to fix the world but very few of them do it 24/7 like Aaron. Very few of them are as dedicated. So of the people who are fighting for right, and what he was doing up to the end was fighting for right, we have lost one of our own. … We’ve lost a great person.
- Eulogizing Aaron Swartz in "Remember Aaron Swartz" (18 January 2013)
- Aaron is dead. Wanderers in this crazy world, we have lost a mentor, a wise elder. Hackers for right, we are one down, we have lost one of our own. Nurtures, careers, listeners, feeders, parents all, we have lost a child. Let us all weep.
- Eulogizing Aaron Swartz in W3C Mailing list (12 Jan 2013)
- When somebody has learned how to program a computer … You're joining a group of people who can do incredible things. They can make the computer do anything they can imagine.
- From An Insight, An Idea with Tim Berners-Lee at 27:27 (25 January 2013)
- This snoopers charter has no place in a modern democracy - it undermines our fundamental rights online. The bulk collection of everyone's internet browsing data is disproportionate, creates a security nightmare for the ISPs who must store the data - and rides roughshod over our right to privacy. Meanwhile, the bulk hacking powers in the Bill risk making the internet less safe for everyone
- 'Snoopers law creates security nightmare' (29th November 2016)
Weaving the Web (1999)
- The web is more a social creation than a technical one. I designed it for a social effect — to help people work together — and not as a technical toy. The ultimate goal of the Web is to support and improve our weblike existence in the world. We clump into families, associations, and companies. We develop trust across the miles and distrust around the corner.
- At CERN there was a credo meant to avoid unnecessary labors, it said that when acquiring new technology: Buy, Don't Build. There were several commercial hypertext editors and I thought we could just add some internet code, so that the hypertext documents could then be sent over the internet. I thought the companies engaged in the then fringe field of hypertext would immediately grasp the possibilities of the web. Unfortunately, their reaction was quite the opposite... it seemed that explaining the vision of the web was exceedingly difficult without a web browser in hand, people had to be able to grasp the web in full, which meant imagining a whole world populated with websites and browsers. It was a lot to ask. Despite the buy don't build credo I came to the conclusion that I was going to have to create the web on my own.
- In an extreme view, the world can be seen as only connections, nothing else. We think of a dictionary as the repository of meaning, but it defines words only in terms of other words. I liked the idea that a piece of information is really defined only by what it's related to, and how it's related. There really is little else to meaning. The structure is everything. There are billions of neurons in our brains, but what are neurons? Just cells. The brain has no knowledge until connections are made between neurons. All that we know, all that we are, comes from the way our neurons are connected.
- The trick... is to make sure that each limited mechanical part of the Web, each application, is within itself composed of simple parts that will never get too powerful.
Quotes about Berners-Lee
- He is a great visionary, but not actually always that good at explaining it … He is very technical, and always happiest when talking to other techies. All he really wants to do is write code, but now he has to go and meet world leaders and business people. I don't think he realised what they were doing at CERN would change the world this much. I think this is as big, if not bigger, than the printing press.
- Video TED Talks: Tim Berners-Lee on the next Web at TED in 2009
- Video TED Talks: Tim Berners-Lee The year open data went worldwide at TED in 2010
- Profile of Tim Berners-Lee
- Tim Berners-Lee on the W3C site
- Tim Berners-Lee on Twitter and identi.ca