Web inventor: Let it be free

Tim Berners-Lee, the Briton who invented the World Wide Web a decade ago,

said today that the Web should be free to develop unfettered by interference

from government.

As the Web continues to evolve and impact society, government could lead

by example with enlightened privacy policies, Berners-Lee said during his

keynote speech at the GovTech 2000 conference in Washington, D.C.

"The Web is universal space.... Anything should be able to be on it," he

said. "It should not constrain society."

However, Berners-Lee said it is important to develop standard formats for

the Web to help current and future users. As the founder of the World Wide

Web Consortium, he is involved in developing uniform practices such as addresses

and language that can translate across time and technology.

"A lot of information on a Web site will be there longer than expected.

Think of how long paper documents are around," Berners-Lee said.

And that means that some state-of-the-art practices now may become obsolete

with no record of how they work. Unless there are common threads, people

in the future may lament the fact that they didn't use a "standard format."

He said the second Internet revolution will include a "semantic web" where

information can actually be processed. "And guess what — a computer is going

to be able to help us for a change," he said.

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