Moi - a Tim Berners-Lee groupie? Surely not

The man that invented the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee is somewhat of an internet god (literally). He was in London this Tuesday 8th July telling those lucky enough to hear him about his latest project the Web Science Research Initiative.

The overspill was contained in side rooms and a global audience was watching live online, and emailing and Twittering in their questions. We were all there to listen, soak up the knowledge and some brave people even ventured a question or two.

It’s easy to take for granted the common platform of the web with its URLs and https where communication and filesharing happens without a second thought. It’s completely changed the way we communicate and interact and infiltrated itself into every facet of our daily lives. Everything is a couple of links away and seamlessly connected.

Berners-Lee was full of analogies for what the web really is. Talking at light speed he enthused about how we should think of the web organically.

“It’s like when you unplug a blockage in your sink. There’s that first thing that cause the blockage and then all the other things added on - that big ball of hair, the cheese, that bit of pasta”

The sum of its parts rather than the whole, then.

Things then got a little political as the panelists tried to agree on what to do with the opportunities that technology gives us. Charles Leadbeater who shared the panel likened the power and prevalence of communitty sites and social networks to the Levellers movement during the Civil War.

The myriad of geeks,/peasants/rebels that make up the internet are like the radical thinkers of the middle ages; distributing pamphlets for political gains, underground subterfuge hasn’t changed. The medium is just different.

The Levellers had no actual power but they protested against the politics of the time advocating voting rights and small things like annual elections, going as far as to organise meetings and petition for their policies. They may have been ahead of their time but they never made a viable economical model or were even particularly successful.

But levelling is de rigeur these days with bloggers becoming the new consultants, both on and offline. In the words of Charles Leadbeater “The bottom is where the power is; the bottom’s the new top”.

When the web was created the philosophy behind it was all about open access and data sharing. The re-iterated Berners Lee war cry of “free our data” told of a belief undimmed, and struck a chord with the audience.

To fnid out more about Tim Berner-Lee's lecture on the "Future of the Web" check out the second blog post.  

For the next installment for the Future of the web lecture check out "One Web or the Western Web?" - debate continues.