Tim Berners-Lee

The web was designed to be decentralised so that everybody could participate by having their own domain and having their own webserver and this hasn’t worked out. Instead, we’ve got the situation where individual personal data has been locked up in these silos. … The proposal is, then, to bring back the idea of a decentralised web.
To bring back power to people. We are thinking we are going to make a social revolution by just tweaking: we’re going to use web technology, but we’re going to use it in such a way that we separate the apps that you use from the data that you use.

2 thoughts on “Tim Berners-Lee

  1. shinichi Post author

    Keynote Address: Tim Berners-Lee

    Re-decentralizing the web – some strategic questions




    Decentralized Web Summit 2016-06-08

    by Kevin Marks


    Tim Berners-Lee:

    thanks for inviting me and thank you everyone for coming. re-decentralizing the web is a topic near to my heart

    anybody who just woke up here in a yellow light-filled church with sacred relics containing all human knowledge

    Vint and Bob Kahn had done their work 20 years before -1969 vs 89 – totally different music

    the internet was there and I could use it – my boss did write “vague but interesting” on my proposal

    my intent was to make something Universal – I have seen a lot of documentation systems that made you use theirs

    some were matrix oriented, some were tree oriented, there was this heterogeneity of systems

    we had to put code on these documentation systems to convert them into universal web pages

    HTML had a lot in common with the SGML markup that people were using in my department

    HTTP was a concoction of SMTP-like headers with the HTML content

    the URL, then called the UDI, was made to look as much like a unix path name as possible

    (6:06) the double slash came from the Apollo domain system, where it could refer to another machine

    incremental change and only adding the pieces that we needed was key

    it was never clear that the web would take off, but it did

    the internet was designed without the nation being a concept- it’s not obvious where users were

    making a website was downloading the code, running the httpd daemon and putting pages on the web

    so just by linking from your blog to other people we made a web of intelligent discussion

    in the years that followed, many wonderful things have been done on top of the web

    creativity built many wonderful things, even giant social networks where people spend all their time

    when you talk to people they are quite frustrated – they have their friends on Facebook, photos on Flickr

    then you want to share between the systems, you have to import either photos or lists of friends

    you have to build an app, learn the Flickr API and the Facebook API and everything is stuck in silos

    (12:35) the internet was designed to be decentralised so everyone could participate by having their own name and domain

    but instead everything is locked up in silos

    the consumer gets a lot of things for free, but they sold their soul of privacy to the marketing machine

    you suddenly get targetted with all kinds of things – because the system realises that you have a child

    the only way to make money on the net seems to be with advertising

    what’s wrong with this picture? It’s a myth. We don’t have to be happy with this.

    when I go for a run my wristband tracks my run and them gets uploaded to the internet

    if I uplaod all my running it can maybe work out when I need new shoes, but that isn’t that valuable

    the proposal is to bring back the idea of a decentralised web – power to the people

    breaking the model where all your data is in different silos – we have project called solid

    we’re going to use web technology but separate the acts from the data that is used

    when we store data where we want, we can have apps that connect to more than just one silo

    we had to use the domain name system because it was there, but we could add a .archive TLD to back things up

    there are systems that say “let’s not use human readable names” – but they can be tricky

    you should think of the URL as a name, not a location – you can attach public/private keys to it as a name

    what we are all aiming for is to make the web better in lots of ways and more reliable

    with HTML sub-resource integrity when you link you can give its hash as well to check it is what you linked to

    a lot of the issues about naming, about should we fix DNS?

    when I come up with a name like ‘whencanwemeet.com’ they want to sell it to me for $100,000 – not good

    we write standards on how these different projects can use different pieces of each other

    The Social Web Working group at the W3C is very much a part of this work

    the web authentication working group is also a related area

    I expect to see the merging of the world of sync and bits of the cloud, and the web itself

    a lot of websites now have links to git repositories for their history – maybe we should surface that history

    when we can see commonalities and difference between versions, you can have distributed sync and editing

    I wanted to say how I am frustrated with silos, and excited that we are going to re-decentralize the web

  2. shinichi Post author

    Origin of “://” in many URI syntaxes


    Indeed, this is how the double slash came to be: when hierarchical naming schemes such as those in unix file systems was extended to a networks file system on the Apollo domain the extra slash was introduced. Similarly, Microsoft NT networking now uses double backslash in exactly the same way.

    A lot of internet “syntax” is based on the Apollo domain system — eg the @ symbol in an email address, the fact that a hostname goes “small.medium.big”, whereas the unix path goes /big/medium/small.


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