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When Sir Tim Berners-Lee Starts Blogging, the Web World Listens

The Father of the Web Joins the Blogosphere

Jeremy Geelan's i-Technology Blog: When The Father of the Web Blogs, the Web World Listens

When you and I start a blog, we can do so pretty much safe in the knowledge that our entry into the blogsophere will be gradual, invisible, quiet. Not so when you're the Father of the World Wide Web, without which blogs themselves could not exist!

On December 12, 2005, accordingly, the first-ever blog entry by Sir Tim Berners-Lee went online. And within days no fewer than 455 comments accumulated.

Most of them were adulatory comments designed to make "TBL" aware of how grateful the wider world is for his invention. Which threatened to overwhelm the blogging system of MIT's Decentralized Information Group (DIG), so Berners-Lee in the end disabled the feedback functionality of that inaugural blog, an action he explained with his characteristic modesty:

"Thanks for all the wonderful welcoming comments. We've had rather a lot, and had to turn the comments off on the first blog. I can't answer them all, but I would point out one thing. I just played my part. I built on the work of others -- the Internet, invented 20 years before the web, by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn and colleagues, for example, and hypertext, a word coined by Ted Nelson for an idea of links which was already implemented in many non-networked systems. I just put these technologies together. And then, it all took off because of this amazing community of enthusiasts, who have done such incredible things with the technology, and are still advancing it in so many ways."

He then attempted, with equal courtesy, to emphasize that the aim and scope of his new blog was fully congruent with his newer, Semantic Web, interests - and not so much with his former, W3C life:

"By the way, this blog is at DIG, the Decentralised Information group at MIT's CSAIL. I intend it to be geeky semantic web stuff mostly. For example, it won't be for W3C questions which should really be addressed to working groups. So thanks for all the support, no need for more general 'thank you' comments! Thank *you* all."

Proof of the SemWeb focus of his DIG blog came just 2 days ago in his December 30, entry, which he devoted to the down-and-dirty question of how to home-bake a semantic web brower (he used not AJAX, he explained, but AJAR: Asynchronous Javascript and RDF). The result, a "toy" that he calls Tabulator "only runs on Firefox for no serious reason" but FFsecurity, Berners-Lee discovered, "does not allow a script from a given domain to access data from any other domain," which was giving him problems. Only if the scripts are signed, or made into an extension, does it work. He asked for assistance from anyone who happened to know how to resolve that particular problem.

In a textbook example of the speed and power of blogging, one anonymous poster quickly responded, on the same day:

"If you're willing to change your Firefox configuration, you could set signed.applets.codebase_principal_support to true and then get privileges via netscape.security.PrivilegeManager.enablePrivilege("UniversalBrowserRead"). This is described on http://www.mozilla.org/projects/security/components/signed-scripts.html."

For those who like to see open-source methodology at its best, I suspect TBL's blog is going to be bookmarked far and wide, even if the Semantic Web hasn't yet got the traction that many of us think it will in due course obtain. His new blog is certain to act a useful catalyst.

Welcome, Sir Tim, to the blogspace you co-created!

    posted Sunday, 1-Jan-2006

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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