Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Tim Berners-Lee

[Via Mark Trodden of Cosmic Variance] BBC reports that Tim Berners-Lee (TBL), the inventor of the world wide web, has been named Greatest Briton 2004.

BBC also carried Mark Lawson's interview of Berners-Lee. Lawson tries, repeatedly, to force him to 'feel responsible') for a whole bunch of things that are bad about the internet. However, Berners-Lee comes out of this relentless nonsense quite unscathed. Like Mark Trodden, I too found this bit absolutely wonderful:

Question: Moving on to the consequences and the uses of the internet, the first question that arises a lot is the quality, the reliability of the information that is there. Now some people think that the internet has led to this great empire of lies, of unreliability. You simply don't know what the state of any of this information is.

TBL : When you say there are a lot of lies out there, if you go randomly picking up pieces of paper in the street or leafing through garbage at the garbage dump what are the chances you'll find something reliable written on the paper that you find there? Very small. When you go onto the internet, if you really rummage around randomly then how do you hope to find something of any of value?

But when you use the web, you follow links and you should keep bookmarks of the places where following links turns out to be a good idea. When you go to a site and it gives you pointers to places that you find are horrible or unreliable, then don't go there again.

You see out there right now, for example, when you look at bloggers some of them are very careful. A good blogger when he says that something's happened will have a point to back, and there's a certain ethos within the blogging community, you always point to your source, you point all the way back to the original article. If you're looking at something and you don't know where it comes from, if there's no pointer to the source, you can ignore it.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Abi, I liked the analogy to picking up pieces of paper. The ethos TBL's talking about is what you'd find among good journalists too: back up your assertions with sources or first-hand reports.