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Berners-Lee Claims Web "Still In Infancy" 206

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the gimme-my-milk-beotch dept.
eldavojohn writes "The man credited with inventing the Web at CERN, Tim Berners-Lee, has made a statement on the 15th anniversary of the Web's initial code release that the Web is still in its infancy. He also made a pretty insightful comment about CERN's releasing of the code for the Web into public domain: 'If we had put a price on it like the University of Minnesota had done with Gopher then it would not have expanded into what it is now. We would have had some sort of market share alongside services like AOL and Compuserve, but we would not have flattened the world.'"
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Berners-Lee Claims Web "Still In Infancy"

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  • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @11:16AM (#23251942) Homepage
    I started using the Web in 1992 and it was demonstrated in public then. And in any case the Internet is more like 30 years.
    • I started using the Web in 1992 and it was demonstrated in public then. And in any case the Internet is more like 30 years.

      Are you sure you're not confusing the internet with the World Wide Web?

      Just asking, I don't know the actual "start" dates of either off the top of my head. I believe TBL is talking about hypertext, the first http daemons and browsers, etc. As opposed to tcp/ip and all the applications built on it before the release of the first http aware applications.

      • by electrictroy (912290) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @12:17PM (#23252804)
        He's pointing-out that the SUMMARY is wrong: "The man credited with inventing the internet at CERN, Tim Berners-Lee" ---- That's not correct. He invented the web, not the internet.
        • He invented the web, not the internet.

          And even that is a stretch. The "web" he invented at CERN had all of the content sitting on a single server. More like today's Wiki-sites, than WWW. If anybody, it is the creators of Mosaic (at NCSA [wikipedia.org]), who really did it.

          The only people I see pushing this myth about Tim's role being fundamental (rather than "merely" substantial), are those anxious about US' just claim to have created the Internet (and WWW) and given it to the world. Although Tim lives in the US now, h

          • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @03:21PM (#23255578) Homepage
            And even that is a stretch. The "web" he invented at CERN had all of the content sitting on a single server. More like today's Wiki-sites, than WWW. If anybody, it is the creators of Mosaic (at NCSA), who really did it.

            Untrue and completely wrong. The Mosaic browser was based on the libwww software developed at CERN. They did not credit the work, but all the major intellectual components of the Web came from CERN: The URI, HTTP, HTML, 404 not found.

            The NCSA group did make a practice of failing to credit Tim's work. In particular the original releases of Mosaic failled to mention the use of CERN code or that it was built on CERN ideas. That is generally regarded as plagiarism. The original Mosaic instructions did not include the string 'World Wide Web' or 'CERN'

            Tim's prior claim is well established, as is the fact that there were Web browsers developed before Tim met the NCSA people.

          • The original web browser (WorldWideWeb, written by TBL on his NeXT Cube, which was also the first web server) supported hyperlinks to pages on other servers, and they made the source code available for others to play with so web servers started up in a number of places - one of the first in the UK was a surfing site run by the Physics potgrads at Swansea University. The CERN guys also wrote a UNIX terminal-based client for the web, which was used by a lot more people than the NeXT one.

            The big contribution

      • by Sique (173459)
        1992 sounds likely to me, I had my first contacts with the Web in 1993, and 1994/95 a friend of mine was maintainer of the Mosaic (TueV).
    • I started using the Web in 1992 and it was demonstrated in public then. And in any case the Internet is more like 30 years.
      I should have clarified. From this more extensive article [bbc.co.uk] it points out that:

      The World Wide Web has many birthdays.

      March 1989, when Tim Berners-Lee handed his boss a short document entitled Information Management: a Proposal, is one.

      Christmas of the following year, when the Web was up and running on two computers, is another.

      But perhaps the most important Web anniversary of all is 30 April 1993.

      That's the day that Cern put the web in the public domain, thereby ensuring that the world would have a single system for accessing the Internet, instead of a Microsoft Web, a Macintosh Web and who knows, perhaps even an Amstrad Web.

      Today, it is hard to imagine a world without the web, yet well into the 1990s, internet access was the reserve of the privileged few, mainly academics.

      Although the internet had been around since the 1970s, accessing documents on remote computers required the mastery of complex protocols. Scientists had been doing that for years, and at Cern, the European laboratory for particle physics in Geneva, they were particularly adept.
      So, it's the 15th anniversary today of when CERN handed over the code to the public domain (thank god they did!).
    • Shocking, I know, but the Slashdot summary is somewhat inaccurate on this point.

      It isn't the 15th anniversary of the Internet, obviously. Nor is it the 15th anniversary of the Web, though that's closer. It's the 15th anniversary of the day when CERN put their code for the first web server and browser into the public domain.

      We're still a couple months short of the day I first heard of it, which I assume all will agree is the really significant milestone.
      • You're right. I always celebrate the anniversary of when you first heard of it. ;)
        • I look at it this way:

          - Was Windows Vista "born" on the day that Microsoft first announced its existence?
          - Or was it born on the day people got their hands on the program?

          Obviously we celebrate* Vista's release date, and list its age according to that. Likewise the WWW was not truly born until the release date for the first browser that people could buy (or download) and start surfing. 1993 is the date that matters.

          *

          * (I use this term very loosely.) (Aside: I first used WWW in 1994, but had been connecte
          • by pressman (182919)
            Does life begin at birth or conception is how I read this post.

            Do we really want to go there on /. ?
      • by Zeinfeld (263942)
        It isn't the 15th anniversary of the Internet, obviously. Nor is it the 15th anniversary of the Web, though that's closer. It's the 15th anniversary of the day when CERN put their code for the first web server and browser into the public domain.

        As someone involved in the Web at the time, this really was something of a non-event. There was never a serious expectation that either CERN would attempt to claim proprietary ownership or that it would matter a great deal to the Web if it did.

        CERN was prohibited

    • The web will always be in its infancy, that's what makes the web what it is. It is constantly changing, adapting, mutating, adjusting to the needs and wants of its users.
    • by Tom (822)
      It's not much of a difference. August 6, 1991 [citizendium.org] was the magic date. But 1993 was more important, with the "free for all" announcement and the release of Mosaic.
  • by eln (21727) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @11:19AM (#23251998) Homepage
    First, he didn't invent the Internet (capital 'i' please), he is credited with inventing the World Wide Web. Repeat after me: The World Wide Web is NOT the Internet.

    Also, I think the web has clearly passed the infant stage and is deeply entrenched in the awkward adolescent phase: It has been doing a lot of experimenting lately with new looks and new technologies. Sure, it thinks it looks really cool and edgy with all of its new Web 2.0 gear (probably bought it from Hot Topic) and it probably feels real good smoking all that XML, but in the end it just ends up being slower, less reliable, and just looks foolish most of the time.
    • probably bought it from Hot Topic

      That's great. The quickest way to get teens to stop shopping at Hot Topic is for nerds, old people, or old nerds (like yourself) to let them know that they know it's cool. If we could convince the slashdot editors to run a few stories about how cool hot topic is, complete with a strong recommendation to shop there, we could end this menace once and for all.

      Of course, then we'd have to read 350 comments all saying that the article is not news for nerds.

      • Hot Topic sells action figures, anime gear an a variety of other nerd friendly items. Personally I already shop there when I want to waste some money.
        • by pressman (182919)
          It's also where posers go to buy Slayer, Misfits and Ramones t-shirts. Much safer to go to the mall than risk life and limb wading through the crowds at a Slayer show.
      • by pressman (182919)
        That's a great idea! Get all the Linux/OSS people to go buy crap at Hot Topic! That will definitely scare away the mallrats who buy their "alternagear" there! Nothing scarier to image obsessed teens than people in their 20's and 30's buying the same stuff they are!

        Just the other day I saw the single most ridiculous image. Some teenage kid wearing goth makeup, a misfits t-shirt, a bunch of studded leather and carrying an Invader Zim lunchbox.

        The mixture of punk, goth, new wave, metal and cartoon fandom was a
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sm62704 (957197)
      (capital 'i' please)

      Why? "Internet" is not a proper name, like George or Indiana. It's a common noun, a thing, like "television" or "microwave oven" or "pencil".

      "Ms. Pedant, may we sharpen our Pencils, please?"
      • by Dog-Cow (21281)
        The term Internet, when applied to the internet commonly used by the majority of people, is most definitely a proper noun.

        It is the same as president versus The President.
        • by sm62704 (957197)
          "President" is a title, as is "Commisioner" or "Chief Executive Officer". "Internet" is not a title. "The internet" is like "the pencil", even though there is only one internet amd many pencils.
      • by profplump (309017)
        As others noted, at least in the context used here, "Internet" is a proper noun. It describes the particular collection of networks we use to do things like post on Slashdot. It does not describe the interconnection of any set of networks, which would be simply "internet".

        There are many other examples of words that are only proper nouns in certain contexts: I can go to the upper floor of a building in Upper Michigan, or I can travel east to get from the Midwest to the East. Or to use your example: Use a pen
  • Don't worry, the government cant resist much longer in taxing the golden goose.

    That and continuing on their pat of regulating it out of existence. ( if most all content is banned, what value will there be for the network )
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      Don't worry, the government cant resist much longer in taxing the golden goose.

      What "government" do you refer to? The internet is international, which is after all what "inter" is shoort for (international network).
      • by Sique (173459)
        It stands for "interconnection of networks" in fact, because the Internet is a connection of about 40.000 different networks, all IP-based.
      • by nurb432 (527695)
        All of them. Or havent you been paying attention to world affairs?
      • The internet is international, which is after all what "inter" is shoort for (international network).

        You really are new here. The 'inter' in Internet does not mean 'international'. Internet is short for internetwork, i.e., a network of different networks.
  • ... that's like 105 human years. I mean it's 7 internet years to one human year right?
  • "but we would not have flattened the world" What?! I didn't expect a guy from The Flat Earth Society in a leading position at CERN, of all places. How quaint the world has become, in a Matrix-like fashion.
    • by EMeta (860558)
      He's referring to the "flattened world" in the sense that Friedman uses it in his book, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World_is_Flat [wikipedia.org]. To oversimplify, he says that the world's economic markets have become unprecedentedly more even (more of a level playing field) in the Internet age. Even outside of economics, more people from all parts of the world interact now with significantly less barriers to entry.
  • Who? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Cro Magnon (467622) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @11:26AM (#23252108) Homepage Journal
    Tim Berners-Lee? Never heard of him. Everyone knows that Algore invented the Internet.
    • Nation Information Infrastructure (information superhway) bill passed in Dec 1991. It bought some optical fiber backbones, encouraged adoption of standards. In the 1980s the "net" was rag-tag collection of suibnets- arpatnet, milnet, NSFnet, BITnet, dialup bboards- etc.
      • by Lumpy (12016)
        In the 1980s the "net" was rag-tag collection of suibnets- arpatnet, milnet, NSFnet, BITnet, dialup bboards- etc.

        Making their way to a place called...... EARTH?

        Sorry,Cant help myself... BSG last season started and I'm all into it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mlwmohawk (801821)
      Everyone knows that Algore invented the Internet.

      I am so sick and tired of this crap. It is nothing less than a republican smear campaign against Al Gore that has been parroted by the puppet media and it has gone on too f*&^king long.

      Al Gore never said he "invented" the internet, but he was instrumental in taking Darpa net public as the internet through legislation and the ability to articulate the vision.

      So, without Al Gore, Tim Berners-Lee would not have had the foundation on which to build the web.

      A
      • by klenwell (960296)
        Well put. Berners-Lee makes an interesting point about what would had happened had the web gone the privatization route a la Gopher.

        Another interesting question (which I've asked before) is where would the web be without Gore's vision and support? I imagine, much the same place that Berners-Lee imagined.
      • by barzok (26681)
        whoooooooooooosh

        Hear that? That's the sound of a joke flying over your head.
        • Re:Who? (Score:4, Funny)

          by Telvin_3d (855514) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @12:56PM (#23253324)
          Sometimes the line between telling a joke and being a twat gets crossed. This is one of those times. It wasn't funny. It wasn't funny when the meme first appeared. The poster might have thought it was funny. He is now being told otherwise. Perhaps with work and practice and further negative feedback someday he may actually be funny. That day is not now.
          • by Bearpaw (13080)
            I have a little list of Slashdot Annoyances. (Who doesn't?)

            "Al Gore invented the Internet, har har!" is pretty high up on the list.

            So are the lamoids who bring up the Hindenburg whenever hydrogen-fueled vehicles are mentioned.

            Actually, that one's a sub-category of people who object to something based on an incredibly simple thing that they somehow think has escaped the notice of people who've been working in a field for 20 or 30 years.

            "Gosh, have they forgotten that hydrogen is flammable?"
        • by geekoid (135745)
          WE all know it's a joke, but it is damn old, and it has NEVER been true.
          I credit that joke for him not getting a significant mind share.
          All you people who didn't vote for him because of that are the reason we are in Iraq, and have a crappy economy. I hope you're happy.
      • by Digi-John (692918)
        It's a smear campaign along the same lines of the "series of tubes" debacle. Not technically inaccurate--Al Gore did a lot to get stuff going, and the Internet *can* be imagined as a bunch of pipes or tubes--but people love to jump on it. You don't bitch about the "series of tubes" thing because a *Republican* said that.
        They're both Internet jokes... or should I say "jokes on the internets", to parrot another not-incredibly-inaccurate but frequently repeated quote. Al Gore is a pompous douchebag a lot of t
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LoudMusic (199347) *

        Everyone knows that Algore invented the Internet.

        I am so sick and tired of this crap. It is nothing less than a republican smear campaign against Al Gore that has been parroted by the puppet media and it has gone on too f*&^king long.

        Al Gore never said he "invented" the internet, but he was instrumental in taking Darpa net public as the internet through legislation and the ability to articulate the vision.

        So, without Al Gore, Tim Berners-Lee would not have had the foundation on which to build the web.

        Al Gore did not "invent" the internet, but it was his persuasion and legislative skills that made it happen. Give the guy a break, he has done some great things and don't let the bogus lies continue to smear him. Take responsibility for your opinions.

        He may not have said he invented it, but his words ARE, "I took the initiative creating the internet."

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpxtKcLSFWw [youtube.com]

        So from a manager's point of view, sure, he created it. But in actuality all he did was take advice from his technology aids, sign papers, and talk a lot about it. It sounds like he's taking credit for coming up with the concept of what the internet is, and then constructing hardware, software, and protocols that are the internet. None of which is true. He merely r

      • Al Gore never said he invented the internet. Al Gore invented the algorithm, and you can plainly see it derives its name from its inventor.
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @11:31AM (#23252186) Journal

    ......but we would not have flattened the world.
    I can tell you this, I remember when Reagan was shot. I remember teacher strikes in the 70's. I remember Kent State. I remember the first time I every saw Moasaic.

    Too old for GenX, tool old for babyboomer. I can tell you this: I never thought the wall would fall and I never thought I'd read Russian websites/bloggs like they were around the corner or in the next town. The Internet, more specifically the WWW *HAS* flattened the world in that respect. Imagine what "Reporters Without Borders" would be without it? It is hard now for people to imagine the world without it.

    Mr Lee should continue to receive high recognition for what he and CERN have given us.
  • "What's exciting is that people are building new social systems, new systems of review, new systems of governance. "My hope is that those will produce... new ways of working together effectively and fairly which we can use globally to manage ourselves as a planet."
    he says. indeed, even now there are many internet communities that users shape up their own opinion about everything, independent of which country they are living in. internet is becoming a super nation
  • Shouldn't the summary read, "inventing the web?"
  • by sm62704 (957197) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @11:53AM (#23252486) Journal
    Where was the printing press 15 years after its invention?

    Where was the telephone fifteen years after its invention? (Hint: not in many homes)

    Where was the television fifteen years after its invention? It was Commercially available since the late 1930s [wikipedia.org] but when I was a kid in the 1950s there were only three stations in the St Louis metro area, one of the US's larger cities.

    The internet is barely out of the womb,
    • Just as a note, technology is progressing increasingly fast, as is it's rate of adoption. Cell phones were a curiosity back in the 80's. If in or near a city, you could carry a briefcase sized object to call people. Arcane rituals had to be done to let your home provider know what zone you were in.

      I'd claim cell phones are out of their infancy. Will they continue to improve? Yes. But at this point they're evolving into something far more than phones; they haven't improved much in that regard in years.

      The in
    • Unlike the Web which started out rather clunky, the Gutenburg starting printing at a very high level. Gutenburg spent decades perfecting his machine in secrecy.
  • by sinator (7980) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @11:57AM (#23252554)
    After all, we're in the terrible 2.0's right now.

    Someone change the diaper, there's twitter all over the place.
  • by sootman (158191) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @12:02PM (#23252624) Homepage Journal
    Q: Do you wish you'd started the Web as a business?
    A: If I'd started "Web Inc." it would have been just another proprietary system. You wouldn't have had this universality. For something like the Web to exist, it has to be based on public, nonproprietary standards.
    — Tim Berners-Lee, Wired, 1997 [wired.com]
  • How does Vannevar Bush [wikipedia.org] feel about it?
    • by Kozz (7764)

      How does Vannevar Bush [wikipedia.org] feel about it?

      Probably, "It's dark and smelly in here. Somebody let me out of this box!"

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @12:29PM (#23252974) Homepage

    E-mail, a mature technology, is now 90% spam. The Web isn't quite there yet. Another five years, and we'll be there.

    (Thought for today: does the infrastructure required to deliver e-mail spam and Internet ads use more energy than the paper-based direct mail industry?)

    • Thought for today: does the infrastructure required to deliver e-mail spam and Internet ads use more energy than the paper-based direct mail industry?

      More energy than chopping down trees to chemically process them to write characters on, then transport them in a car to their destination?
  • He invented the World Wide Web.

    Everyone KNOWS Al Gore invented the Internet! Sheesh!
  • Making the web free to use had a vital role in spreading its use worldwide...If we had put a price on it like the University of Minnesota had done with Gopher then it would not have expanded into what it is now

    The web itself isn't free to use nor is the internet. However, I will agree that CERN's decision to make their web code free to the public did play a role in bringing about an idea whose time had come.

    Still, whether something is free or not doesn't really have an obvious relationship to it spreading (meaningfully) worldwide. For example, I don't think you can say just because something is a proprietary product means it won't spread worldwide. The market is fickle and you never really know what peop

  • Well, when the internet was 15 years old, which was, what, mid 80s, I don't think the web had even been concieved yet. As for the web, I have been using it for 16 years.
  • for a bunch of people to wave their' I've been using the internet for x years' penis around.
  • Or does anyone seriously think the more 'mature' the Internet gets, equaling the more commercially exploited, the less infantile it would become?
  • All the "I've been using X for Y years!" comments remind me of a poll my local newspaper did back in 1994 when the Web and Internet were just becoming popular with the masses.

    Over 40% of the respondents (out of over 900 in one city) said they had been using the Internet for 11 years or more. In 1994.

    Um...yeah.

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