Happy 20th WWW

Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s TED talk starts with how he invented the web 20 years ago out of frustration at all the data around him being in different incompatible formats and locations, and develops his view of what we should be doing with the web now.

His leap in 1989 was not hyperlinked pages – those already already existed in various ways – but to allow a click to take you to any document in the world rather than just other items within the dataset you’re browsing.

Linked Data

Now he asks us to think about “a world where everybody has put data on the web”. These data have names, beginning with http://, and when you use these names to fetch the data you get useful information in a standard format and with relationships to other data. So i can ask for someone’s birthplace and get the town, then browse the information about the region around the town.

The more data that’s available and linked, the more powerful it is. Many scientists are now opening up their databases, as they realise how powerful are the resulting insights – and has a dig at civil servants who hoard their data rather than giving them out raw.

His idea worth spreading (the point of TED talks) is that we must all do our bit to add whatever data we can to the sum total – by opening up databases, by editing shared sites like Wikipedia, and so on.

Worth watching – this humble scientist changed the world from his desk with a simple idea. This seemingly simple plea is hugely powerful.