Thursday, December 02, 2004

From the Man That Started It All

From eWeek Berners-Lee Maps Vision of a Web Without Walls

You have to listen to the guy that started the net with and what his visions are now.

BOSTON—To envision the Internet of the future, W3C director and WWW founding father Tim Berners-Lee suggested during the W3C's 10-year birthday bash here Wednesday, first envision groceries—say a box of rice.

On the box's side, in small, rice grain-sized type, you will find nutrition information. On its back, you will find directions on how to cook it. Somewhere else you may find a URL that you can use to research any number of rice-related things: recipes, country of agricultural origin, Uncle Ben company data or relevant information pertaining to the allergenic nature of rice, perhaps.

It's exciting stuff, but it is as difficult to explain why as it was difficult to explain, 10 years ago, what was so exciting about the Web, Berners-Lee said during the W3C's daylong birthday celebration... Howard Rheingold does a great job of explaining it in Smart Mobs

The Web of the future, for which Berners-Lee, the W3C and other research and industrial partners have been working to lay the foundation since about 2000, will give us a rice box that, when scanned, electronically unfurls that multifaceted, rice-related Web of data—without having to squint at dinky type.

"Pre-Web, it was really, really difficult to explain to anybody why the Web was exciting," he said. "I could show them a window, click on a line of text, then another window would pop up. Big deal. The idea that that link could go anywhere, you could say that in English, but it takes a certain amount of imagination [to picture the potential]."

The Semantic Web is going to be like a huge data bus, Berners-Lee said—a back-end bus that spans the planet. Comparing it to Tsunami (theres that tsunami word again) or Information Integrator is like saying there used to be Hypercards before the Web. "Yes, there were innumerable Hypercard applications before the World Wide Web," he said. "They just didn't talk the same language."

The database is infinite once you go into the physical world. Connecting the two worlds (physical with electronic) is true ubiquitous computing.

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