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Transcript of Tim Berners-Lee
b) Me, Tim Berners-Lee (aka TimBL)
c) The Government
d) Former US VP Al Gore Pop Quiz: Who was Responsible for Inventing the World Wide Web? ? If you answered "b" then you're off to a great start (and should be given that this is my presentation!) B Welcome to TimBL: How I Invented the World Wide Web and Standardized it Written by Sir Tim Berners-Lee
OM, KBE, FRS, FREng, FRSA An Overview of my Life
How I Created the World Wide Web
The Semantic Web
My Current Activities and Involvement Our Agenda The First Part of my Life
and My Family I am of British decent and was born in
London in the June of 1955. I have three siblings and my parents both worked in the technology field. In fact, my parents were partially responsible for the creation of the
first computer to be made commercially
available, the Ferranti Mark 1. My Family I attended Queen’s College as a young adult and earned a degree in physics in 1976. During that time period I was able to build a computer of my own, albeit with transistor-transistor logic gates, an M8600 processor (read: very underpowered by today’s standards), an old television, and the use of my soldering iron to wire everything together. My Educational Background My Career Over the course of the next several years I spent my time working in the telecommunications field and ultimately wrote software for typesetting on intelligent printers. Software Writing and Typesetting Four years after receiving my degree in physics I was finally able to apply my acquired knowledge through a six month consulting contract at CERN. For those of you who may not know what CERN it, the acronym is a reference to the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The organization’s current focus to operate the largest particle physics laboratory in the world, while its main function is to operate particle accelerators for physics research. You may be wondering what this has to do with the creation of the internet, but the reality is that this is where the internet was born due to the powerful networking and computing center that CERN houses. I will go into more details on this piece of my life shortly. My First Work at CERN Going back to my work at CERN, my role during my six-month employment was to serve as a software engineering consultant. As you can imagine the amount of research that is performed at CERN is vast, and at that moment in time there was no convenient way for researchers to share information with one another. Researchers from all around the world worked on different computing systems and the formatting differences were, understandably, quite large. In order to format their deliverables to conform to CERN’s system researchers would have to redo much of their work, and even then the data wasn’t searchable. I saw this as an opportunity and wrote a private program that I dubbed “ENQUIRE,” which used the concept of hypertext to help researchers share information with one another (this also was a primary influence for the semantic web). Hypertext may sound esoteric, but if you have ever viewed a webpage or clicked a link on a webpage then you have already had experience with hypertext (and subsequently hyperlinks). ENQUIRE and the Foundation for the WWW After my contract ran its course at CERN I took a position at John Poole’s Image Computer Systems Ltd., which taught me (among other things) computer networking. I walked away from this position with a strong knowledge of networking and real-time systems and joined the team at CERN once again. Post-CERN The World Wide Web is Born At this point in time CERN had become the largest internet node (read: hub) in Europe, and with this I felt that its potential could be fully harnessed with the integration of the ENQUIRE system I first developed during my contract work with CERN. The main pieces of a rudimentary World Wide Web, such as the hypertext, networking, etc., had already been developed in some capacity, so this was simply a matter of putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together. Putting it all Together My first draft of this system was created in the first part of 1989 and was accepted in 1990 with the editing work of Robert Cailliau. I wrote the first World Wide Web server, known as httpd (this should look familiar to you since it contains “http”), the first web browser, known as WorldWideWeb (a far cry from today’s Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome), and a hypertext editor for editing documents on this iteration of the web. We started this work in October 1990 and by December of the same year had it available at CERN. By the following summer this was available to the entire Internet. Making the WWW Public Cailliau, my partner on the project, eloquently summarized what happened next: “During some sessions in the CERN cafeteria, Tim and I try to find a catching name for the system. I was determined that the name should not yet again be taken from Greek mythology. Tim proposes ‘World-Wide Web’. I like this very much, except that it is difficult to pronounce in French...” A Small Anecdote for You While it doesn’t exist in its prior form anymore you may still visit the first website ever published on the World Wide Web, a website developed by us to teach others more about creating their own webpage, how to search the web, and the concept of hypertext in general:
http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html The World's First Website Between 1991 and 1994 I continually worked towards improving the design of the web and writing specifications for URLs (the addresses you use to access a hypertext document/webpage), HTTP (the protocol or means by which webpages are delivered), and HTML (the code that makes up a webpage). Post WWW At this point in time the web was receiving an exponentially increasing number of hits, but I was concerned that with this growth would come the creation of various factions, such as free, business, commercial, and academic users/groups. The work I had done was designed to create a unified medium opposite that of CERN, and my concern here was that new competition on the net would lead to proprietary products and standards that would undo years of my work. It was at this point that I moved to MIT and founded the World Wide Web Consortium, also known as the W3C. Our objective in creating this organization was to develop an international community that collaboratively worked to create open standards, guidelines, and protocols that kept the web growing in a healthy and structured fashion. Our current vision is known as “OneWeb,” and was dubbed this because of our belief that the web should be a unified, international community, with information that is freely available without any royalties or fees (thus being available to everyone). This work has continued onto today, where I currently serve as the head of the organization. The Founding of the W3C The Semantic Web Between 1994 and 1999 my focus remained primary on my work with the W3C, after which I became the first to hold the 3Com Founders Chair position (and the first non-faculty at MIT to hold a chair position). It was also at this point that I lead the W3C to form the standards that would define the semantic web.
Simply put, the semantic web is the solution to the types of problems CERN faced roughly two decades ago. The issue at CERN, as I had mentioned earlier, was that you had all of these research documents, all of such great value, and yet none of them were linked together. By creating the World Wide Web we created a web of documents, whereby documents could be shared with one another and interpretations could be made offline. The next step in this process is to unify this data in a fashion where computers can intelligently derive meaning from webpages for us, thus freeing our learners’ minds for even higher-levels of thinking and achievement. The Start of the Semantic Web Movement The primary difference between these two distinctions is that a web of documents is simply an interconnected way to access separate documents whose data is managed by different applications. The semantic web, aka a web of data, creates a common standard where data flows together from document to document and computerized-systems can participate in the human-human communication process. A Web of Documents vs.
a Web of Data Web 2.0 is a common example of the semantic web coming together. In prior iterations of the Web the exchange of information flowed in only one direction. Web 2.0 provided the opportunity for users of all experience levels to share data with one another, provide feedback on existing data, and (in essence) create new meanings and interpretations for online content. The current problem with this schema is that computers aren’t playing a big enough role in helping to derive meaning from these exchanges, hence the introduction of Web 3.0. Web 3.0 promises to bring together the concepts of the semantic web and the World Wide Web in a fashion that benefits users of all backgrounds, especially those in the field of education. In other words, computers now become a part of the conversation. Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 The semantic web can help facilitate the construction of knowledge. If you are a student researching a topic for a project you may use a search engine such as Google, but the list of results requires your manual intervention and interpretation. My vision is that the search results may be displayed in a report where relevant data is collected from all public sources and organized in a way that presents similarities and contrasts between the data sources, similar and opposing viewpoints, and takes into account the age of the data being used. This sort of research does the sifting and sorting for the learner, thus freeing their minds up to consider higher level questions and engage in more extensive discussions with their peers. The Construction of Knowledge Personal Learning Networks are another affordance provided by the semantic web. Your personal learning network connects you, as a user or learner, to your interests. The goal with web 3.0 (and the semantic web) is to shift the focus from the services you use for research to the subjects you are interested in. With a standardized, semantic web artificial intelligence can interpret data from any source as long as it is relevant to the subject and semantically formatted, thus shifting the efforts of the student from searching to interpreting, from sifting to assessing, from frustration to expansion. Personal Learning Networks Another affordance of the semantic web is the potential to obtain a sort of “multiple-institution” education. Describing course and degree requirements in a semantically-compatible way can create a connectedness that allows for students to explore the expansive information held at various universities, as well as facilitate the transfer of a student from one institution to another. Education Spanning Multiple Institutions Looking Back 21 years ago I wrote this in my original summary of the web browser project:
“To follow a link, a reader clicks with a mouse (or types in a number if he or she has no mouse). To search and index, a reader gives keywords (or other search criteria). These are the only operations necessary to access the entire world of data.”
Another quote from that original statement that I find to be of key importance:
“[World Wide Web] browsers can access many existing data systems…In this way, the critical mass of data is quickly exceeded, and the increasing use of the system by readers and information suppliers encourage each other.”
These original statements were true 21 years ago and are still true to this day thanks to the W3C’s continued efforts in standardization. The ultimate goal we are working towards is keeping the web structured, facilitating the exchange of freely available information, and introducing computers into the conversations users and learners are having with one another. In order for more data to be semantically available it must not only be formatted as such, but it must also be free and transparent in order to be added to the mix, thus leading to my current involvements. 21 Years Ago... Fast-forwarding to 2009 I focused my efforts in a slightly different direction than before, but still related to the Internet nonetheless. The first of my efforts was announced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who shared with the world that I would be working with our country’s government to make data on the web more accessible and open.
In my interview with the BBC I had mentioned that, "greater openness, accountability and transparency in government will give people greater choice and make it easier for individuals to get more directly involved in issues that matter to them." While this applies to government in the context of my project, data.gov.uk, this can also be applied to the area of education, as greater openness, accountability, and transparency in our scholarly information can allow for individuals and computers to become directly involved in processing this information, thus promoting learning through the semantic web. Opening up the World Wide Web My second effort in the direction of emancipating information on the internet was the creation of the World Wide Web Foundation, which aims to rise above the obstacles that stand between a world of users and free, widely-available, and useful information.
The mission of our organization, simply put: “Our success will be measured by how well we foster the creativity of our children. Whether future scientists have the tools to cure diseases. Whether people, in developed and developing economies alike, can distinguish reliable information from propaganda or commercial chaff. Whether the next generation will build systems that support democracy and promote accountable debate. I hope that you will join this global effort to advance the Web to empower people.”
–stated by me, Tim Berners-Lee The World Wide Web Foundation And with that we continue forward in 2012 with the goal of educating everyone in the global community through shared and free information and through the semantic web. While I do not do frequent public appearances (you may have seen me in the 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies) I am continually working towards opening up the web to everyone and opening minds in the process. It has been my pleasure to share with you a portion of my life, my experience in creating the World Wide Web, and my contributions to defining the semantic web. If you are interested in learning more I implore you to investigate the following resources: Concluding Thoughts http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventors/berners-lee.htm