Future Trends: Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web
interviewed by Peter Day, Business Correspondent, BBC News at BBC
Sir Timothy Berners-Lee
Inventor, World Wide Web
3com Founders Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Director, World wide Web Consortium (W3C)
Founder, World Wide Web Foundation
President, Open Data Institute (ODI)
Is there anyone in charge here?
No. And that’s the way Sir Timothy Berners-Lee likes it — envisioned it, really. The world wide web was conceived by its father to be royalty free, with no central authority, no permission and no cost. It was to be a global book, written in a universal computer language for everyone to connect with and learn from.
But on a personal level, he was looking for a collaborative tool he could use to work on his many projects with colleagues around the world. Sir Tim soon realized that fast, good and fair were the bywords he and his many collaborators would have to juggle in order to keep their invention open and on an upward trajectory.
And the world wide web, which dates (more or less) to 1989, is far from complete. Sir Tim expects that it will just keep changing, evolving and growing with each new platform. It also will continue to disrupt industries and break the very monopolies that will arise from it.
Today’s internet leaders may not last in the next reiteration, but the beauty for entrepreneurs is that there’s room for all. Even monopolies (the enemy of innovation) are made to be broken. For example, Netscape had a monopoly on the browser, and then search engines took over, and then social networks popped up — and there’s still no end in sight.
The power of positive thinking
Not surprisingly, Sir Tim is often asked by governments and individuals alike on how to spur entrepreneurship. His advice on idea generation: don’t waste time with people who don’t get it. Just focus on working with those who do.