The vision of a democratic society in which government and citizens can create, share, access, be informed and empowered by an open Web of data and services is materializing daily. Existing data not yet on the Web is a valuable but unused asset. Putting it on the Web turns on this value, boosts the economy through greater efficiency and new business models, and boosts democracy by informing and engaging citizens.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web, Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, and evangelist for Linked Open Data using semantic web technology standards, will discuss the impact people inside and outside of government are making when empowered by a Web of Data.
Tim Berners-Lee graduated from the Queen’s College at Oxford University, England, 1976. Whilst there he built his first computer with a soldering iron, TTL gates, an M6800 processor and an old television.
He spent two years with Plessey Telecommunications Ltd (Poole, Dorset, UK) a major UK Telecom equipment manufacturer, working on distributed transaction systems, message relays, and bar code technology.
In 1978 Tim left Plessey to join D.G Nash Ltd (Ferndown, Dorset, UK), where he wrote among other things typesetting software for intelligent printers, and a multitasking operating system.
A year and a half spent as an independent consultant included a six month stint (Jun-Dec 1980)as consultant software engineer at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. Whilst there, he wrote for his own private use his first program for storing information including using random associations. Named “Enquire” and never published, this program formed the conceptual basis for the future development of the World Wide Web.
From 1981 until 1984, Tim worked at John Poole’s Image Computer Systems Ltd, with technical design responsibility. Work here included real time control firmware, graphics and communications software, and a generic macro language. In 1984, he took up a fellowship at CERN, to work on distributed real-time systems for scientific data acquisition and system control. Among other things, he worked on FASTBUS system software and designed a heterogeneous remote procedure call system.
In 1989, he proposed a global hypertext project, to be known as the World Wide Web. Based on the earlier “Enquire” work, it was designed to allow people to work together by combining their knowledge in a web of hypertext documents. He wrote the first World Wide Web server, “httpd”, and the first client, “WorldWideWeb” a what-you-see-is-what-you-get hypertext browser/editor which ran in the NeXTStep environment. This work was started in October 1990, and the program “WorldWideWeb” first made available within CERN in December, and on the Internet at large in the summer of 1991.
Through 1991 and 1993, Tim continued working on the design of the Web, coordinating feedback from users across the Internet. His initial specifications of URIs, HTTP and HTML were refined and discussed in larger circles as the Web technology spread.
In 1994, Tim founded the World Wide Web Consortium at the then Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) which merged with the Artificial Intelligence Lab in 2003 to become the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Since that time he has served as the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, a Web standards organization which develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential. The Consortium has host sites located at MIT, at ERCIM in Europe, and at Keio University in Japan as well as Offices around the world.
In 1999, he became the first holder of the 3Com Founders chair. He is currently the 3COM Founders Professor of Engineering in the School of Engineering, with a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at CSAIL where he also heads the Decentralized Information Group (DIG). In December 2004 he was named a Professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Southampton, UK. He is co-Director of the Web Science Trust (WSTrust) launched in 2006 to help create the first multidisciplinary research body to examine the World Wide Web and offer the practical solutions needed to help guide its future use and design. He is a Director of the World Wide Web Foundation, started in 2008 to fund and coordinate efforts to further the potential of the Web to benefit humanity.
In June 2009 Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that Tim Berners-Lee will work with the UK Government to help make data more open and accessible on the Web, building on the work of the Power of Information Task Force.
He is the author, with Mark Fischetti, of the book “Weaving the Web” on the the past present and future of the Web.
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