In a wide-ranging keynote, World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee talks the net, technology trends and bridging the digital divide.
- In a wide-ranging keynote about issues atop his mind, Tim Berners-Lee, the
creator of the World Wide Web, touched on just about every subject he could, but
it is clear he has a keen interest in getting more data on the Web, continuing
to bridge the digital divide, handling privacy in a Web-oriented world and
delivered the opening keynote at the Nokia World 2010
conference here, opening his talk by encouraging developers to write
for the Web. "Make Web apps so they can work with all kinds of
different devices," he
"putting data on the Web" is one of his pet projects, which he says he started
in 2009. "Data on the Web is something I'm very excited about."
spoke of how he convinced the United Kingdom
government to put all its data on the Web, and he said he was pleased to say
that process is ongoing. Later, in a small group interview with eWEEK and
others, Berners-Lee noted that not all data should go online. For instance,
personal data or military data need not go online.
the issue of putting data on the Web is relevant to the mobile world, he said.
"All the things you run off your mobile are data-backed," he added. "All these
apps flourish on an open bed of data."
"You can use data on mobiles as well as on really big screens," Berners-Lee
said. "The good thing about data is you can reuse it on different size things,
like something the size of a watch or something very big."
said the move to put more and more data on the Web is a boon to developers,
particularly those that can deliver mashups that feature data from various
Berners-Lee said that although the Web has spread to the point where 20 percent
of the world uses it, that is not enough. In particular, it is not enough
because "80 percent of the population in the world has a signal" and could
gain access to the Web if they had the means. However, "80 percent are not
part of the information society," he said. So in 2009, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) started the World Wide Web Foundation to look into
what could be done to get the other 80 percent online.
said he used to assume that rather than worry about getting these folks, who
might be in remote areas of Africa and elsewhere,
Internet access, maybe they should first get access to clean water and
health care. "But that's not necessarily true," he said, because the Web can be
an enabler to help people get all of that.
addition, Berners-Lee said it has gotten to the point where a $10 phone now has
a Web browser on it. "But to enroll in a data plan, the rate goes up," he said.
And poor people cannot afford this. "This is a huge issue," he said.
make matters worse, much of the data being sent is being sent via SMS and "SMS
is the most expensive way to send data. So let's look at very low bandwidth,
very cheap." Berners-Lee said he is looking for someone to step in and provide
cheap bandwidth by default, maybe even free. He said this could be done by
carriers or handset providers. "You give away the small line for free and you
charge for the big one."
also rated among the issues Berners-Lee described as "concerns" of his. He said
social networking sites are not the only things to have privacy as an issue.
Location-based technologies also challenge privacy.
think we're going to have to look at privacy from a different point of view,"
Berners-Lee said. "We must build systems that hold organizations accountable,
and companies will build systems that respect users."
"we must ensure the neutrality of the underlying network," Berners-Lee said. "We
need to have constant vigilance because net neutrality is something that
everybody takes for granted."
also spoke of various technologies that have reached ubiquity.
must be just the most popular format for anything anywhere," he said. "Now the
W3C is working on HTML5 and one nice thing about that is it's easier to put in
SVG (Scalar Vector Graphics) allow you to have line drawings and more
sophisticated graphics on your Websites rather than just text," Berners-Lee
said. "Earlier it wasn't implemented by all. One popular browser manufacturer
didn't use it, but now they do. Now you can have both HTML5 and SVG on your
is another issue of concern for Berners-Lee, he said. Developers should follow
guidelines to ensure that the apps they create are accessible by all, he said.
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.