I’m trying to keep commentary in Restoring the Balance at a minimum, so occasionally when a story jumps out at me I’ll be posting it here. A quote in World Wide Web Inventor Voted 2004 Greatest Briton not only jumped out at me but started dancing around singing “I don’t understand the web! I don’t understand the web!”
Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented and then gave away the World Wide Web, was picked on Thursday as epitomizing the Greatest of Britishness — a quality finance minister Gordon Brown said was unique.
His selfless act added to modesty and ingenuity were deemed by a panel of judges to make Berners-Lee the Greatest Briton of 2004 in the first of what organizers said they hoped would become an annual event.
Noted historian and panel member David Starkey said Berners-Lee’s double acts of ingenuity and charity made him an automatic choice.
“He chose not to commercially exploit his invention. He gave it away almost willfully. If he had fully exploited it, he would make Bill Gates look like a pauper today,” he told Reuters.
I’m going to type this very slowly, so please read it slowly and make sure you understand.
The web wasn’t a success in spite of Berners-Lee’s giving it away. It was a success because of Sir Tim’s giving it away.
I’m not saying he isn’t a great Briton, or a great man, or that he didn’t do something great. On the contrary, I have nothing but esteem for the man. However, if he had built the web as a closed, commercial system it would be at best about as popular as Prodigy, Compuserve or AOL was then. Popular for the time, but nothing compared with how popular an open system is.
Q: Do you have had mixed emotions about “cashing in” on the Web?
A: Not really.Â It was simply that had the technology been proprietary, and in my total control, it would probably not have taken off.Â The decision to make the Web an open system was necessary for it to be universal.Â You can’t propose that something be a universal space and at the same time keep control of it.
Obviously he isn’t the one missing the point.]