Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web By Tim Berners-Lee

Named one of the greatest minds of the 20th century by Time, Tim Berners-Lee is responsible for one of that century's most important advancements: the world wide web.  Now, this low-profile genius - who never personally profited from his invention - offers a compelling portrait of his invention.  He reveals the Web's origins and the creation of the now ubiquitous http and www acronyms and shares his views on such critical issues as censorship, privacy, the increasing power of software companies, and the need to find the ideal balance between commercial and social forces.  He offers insights into the true nature of the Web, showing readers how to use it to its fullest advantage.  And he presents his own plan for the Web's future, calling for the active support and participation of programmers, computer manufacturers, and social organizations to manage and maintain this valuable resource so that it can remain a powerful force for social change and an outlet for individual creativity. Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web


Tim Berners-Lee ☆ 9 Free download

Design. Destiny. Big words for something that is there in part because of random happenings.

The web is a bad design. It is not particularly good at anything, yet apparently it can be adapted to many things. Yet Netflix or YouTube have nothing to do with Berners-Lee as much as his inflated ego would want you to believe. These are sites that developed using the available tools. And the free Internet Explorer, as much blamed, has much more with the Web of today than this petty bureaucrat and his verbose protocol design. English The tale of the birth of the Web is a bit dry, but it's an incredibly important origin story. This helped clear up a lot of early Web history that I was a bit fuzzy on, especially regarding the role of CERN and early browser makers. The book shines when TBL describes his dreams about the past, present, and future of the Web. It drags when he describes the bureaucratic W3C organization.

There are some stand-out quotes in this book that really help underpin how radically different the Web is vs the things it replaced:

However, like many hypertext products at the time, [Dynatext] was built around the idea that a book had to be compiled (like a computer program) to convert it from the form in which it was written to a form in which it could be displayed efficiently. Accustomed to this cumbersome multistep process, the EBT people could not take me seriously when I suggested that the original coded language could be sent across the Web and displayed instantly on the screen.

As for the future, the dream of the metadata-rich Web may never be quite like TBL envisioned, but then again it might. It may just take longer than he'd hoped. English A very short history of the beginnings of the world wide web (WWW) from Tim Berner-Lee, the original architect of the supporting software, as well as the idea of the thing. For those who are familiar with the desktop/PC wars of the 90s, Berners-Lee's narrative will be a familiar one, as the terminal point of his narrative is at the point of the creation of the Netscape browser and the subsequent legal kerfuffle that embroiled both Netscape and Microsoft in that era when Microsoft began including their Internet Explorer browser in Windows 98'.

Berners-Lee recounts the developments of the WWW that led up to that point, which he had a significant hand, including not only the initial software authoring at CERN, including his original conception of using a graph-object as data type to house information (previously reference data at CERN and elsewhere were mostly implemented as simple lists objects), but his insight into a linking algorithm to make information retrieval more efficient. He also goes into the issues of figuring out how to setup the HTTP protocol/standard as well as the efforts at organizing multiple stakeholders outside of CERN to host the the WWW software across different geographies as the web expanded into all continents in the globe.

The story has been told many times, and there's not much new here. It is however, always interesting to hear/read it from someone who directly impacted the events, and I found it not a total waste of time in this case either. Berners-Lee also discusses his opinion of the future of web-development (now our past) to include an intelligent semantics web. Though he doesn't really go through in detail, he mentions possibilities of intelligence emerging out of the semantic web, but I couldn't really grasp what he was meaning in this case (as is often the situation when concepts like 'emergence' are invoked).

Overall, it is an important piece of writing for the history of computing. It is not really 'required' reading, but I find it helpful to understand how the originator of a technology viewed that technology at the time of it's creation, as well as understanding how they thought it would evolve (and seeing how it actually did evolve). In this respect, the book has utility. Conditional recommend. English Although it came out in the year 2000, Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web is as relevant today as it was when it was published. Weaving the Web is a memoir by Tim Berners-Lee about the creation and early growth of the Web. Most of the book concentrates on the ideas, insights, software, and previous attempts that led to the Web—as well as the decisions and evangelism that allowed it flourish in the ’90s. The last quarter of the book deals with Berners-Lee’s ideas about how the Web should evolve. Some of the philosophy behind the Web explained in Weaving is very relevant to current debates around censorship, centralized control of content, and privacy.

We cannot fully understand something if we do not understand its origin story. Weaving the Web fills in many blanks for the curious reader. Like any great creation, the Web did not form in a vacuum. It was the result of over a decade of experimenting by its creator. In the early chapters of Weaving the Web you feel like you are there with Berners-Lee and his colleague Robert Cailliau as they pushed the Web forward. Like Jony Ive has said—ideas are fragile when they’re first created. You get a strong sense of how Berners-Lee nurtured his idea.

Perhaps even more interesting than the origin story, is the philosophy and core ideas that Berners-Lee imbued the Web with. Some of his outlook is surprising and insightful. For example, he does not credit HTTP or HTML as the most important innovation, but instead the URI. “It is the most fundamental innovation of the Web, because it is the one specification that every Web program, client or server, anywhere uses when any link is followed.” (page 39)

Throughout the book, Berners-Lee advocates for decentralization and for empowering individuals as creators. It’s important to note that the book came out at the height of the Web 1.0 era, before the onslaught of social media and YouTube-like content sharing sites. A time when the Web was very static. Yet, he didn’t intend it that way. “I never intended HTML source code (the stuff with the angle brackets) to be seen by users. A browser/editor would let a user simply view or edit the language of a page of hypertext, as if he were using a word processor.” (page 42)

The first web browser that Berners-Lee developed was also an editor. He continually encouraged companies to come out with combined browsers/editors but most declined. It’s interesting to think how differently the Web would have evolved had the browser/editor concept taken off.

Berners-Lee’s philosophy goes beyond technology. He designed the Web to be an open, decentralized system that anyone could participate in. “Whether inspired by free-market desires or humanistic ideals, we all felt that control was the wrong perspective. I made it clear that I had designed the Web so there should be no centralized place where someone would have to ‘register’ a new server, or get approval of its contents. Anybody could build a server and put anything on it.” (page 99)

As the Web has become more and more dominated by a few large tech companies, many feel this early philosophy has been lost. It’s not the current ethos. It’s not the way that most people interact with the Web. Berners-Lee was very prescient in understanding this threat. “If a company claims to give access to the world of information, then presents a filtered view, the Web loses its credibility. That is why hardware, software, and transmission companies must remain unbiased toward content. I would like to keep the conduit separate from the content.” (page 132)

The last quarter of Weaving the Web deals with Berners-Lee’s vision for how the Web should evolve. Much of it did not come to pass—at least not in the way he advocated. It includes explanations of standards like SMIL that never really took off. It speaks to how creating a standard is not as important as making a killer app. This section is interesting from a historical standpoint—to understand what people were thinking about after the first decade of the Web. But it’s not nearly as interesting as the rest of the book.

Overall, Weaving the Web does a great job recounting the story of the Web’s creation. It’s well written and insightful. Most importantly, it clearly states the philosophical underpinnings that inspired Berners-Lee and propelled the Web through its critical first phase of growth. It provides a lot of historical context and insight for many of our current debates around the Web. English We are in 1999, Berners-Lee goes about telling an honest account on how the www started. Sharing the hurdles to get funding at CERN and to convince people to use the system; phone book was the killer application. His colleagues even made jokes about the world wide web name and he had to move to MIT to start the W3C. Heck, is pretty damn hard change the world. English

Weaving the Web touched on the philosophical underpinnings of the Web which I loved. Highlighted is the fact the Internet exists to allow the free exchange of idea throughout humanity. Any organization that limits or throttles the content we consume or produce is against the very spirit of the Internet.

The history of the web as explained by Tim is as real and personal as it gets. It outshines the dry factual notes I got as a Computer Science undergraduate. To understand the professional struggles and work that went into making the open Web I know today is a gem.

The only thing I didn't like was that he spent too much time on small technical details such as URI. I know it was important but a few sentences would have done. There were a few other technical points that were drawn out. Anyone that wasn't technical would have been lost and those who already have some background in the Web would have been bored at the repetition.

Overall it was a solid book and I am grateful the creator of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee, gave his first hand account of why and how it come to be. English Người cha của web lên tiếng về đứa con tinh thần của mình. Cái thú vị nhất với t là link. Văn bản truyền thống thường đi theo thứ tự trên xuống trái qua phải. Nhưng hypertext có thể liên kết với các phần khác của nó, hay các văn bản khác giống như cách người suy nghĩ vậy. Một điểm thú vị khác là chuân RDF cho Semantic Web. Sách kết thúc ở năm 2000 và Tim đưa ra tầm nhìn về Semantic Web cho cả database với việc áp dụng RDF và XML. Có điều sau một vài hứng khởi ban đầu thì RDF ko đc áp dụng rộng rãi.
Một trùng hợp là tuần này mình vừa có bài nói ở cty về Dgraph, một công cụ có áp dụng ngữ pháp XML. Và giờ thì viết review này trên goodreads, có API dùng dữ liệu định dạng XML luôn. English интересна только первая половина книжки, дальше как-то скучно

- WWW была далеко не первой попытки TBL создать гипертекстовую систему. 1980 он сбацал Enquire
- Тим Бернс Ли пытался продать свою идею связать гипертекстовую систему с интернетом многим разработчикам гипертекстовых систем. Все отказались, потому что не видели в этом особого смысла. Когда он увидел GUIDE то сказал себе, “бля, так эти ребята сделали все самое сложное, осталось сервер под это дело написать с протоколом нужным“. Но разработчики GUIDE вежливо послали его нахер.
- Внутри CERN он продавал свою систему как систему документооборота. Никому нахер не нужна абстрактная гипертекстовая система, думал он, а вот если сделать один полезный кейс, то может пригодится. Первый кейс — телефонный справочник всех сотрудников CERN. Оказался очень успешным и все пользовались с удовольствием.
- WWW был написан на Next и на языке.... Objective C
- Развитие WWW 20 лет назад он не предугадал. English Here I am, reading a book about web which was written in nearly 20 years ago, but still is as touching and interesting as it can be. It was an amazing experience to read about the creation of the web and the struggles Tim Berners-Lee had when trying to make his idea come true. I am from the web-generation, we are the people who were born after the web and grew up with it. We observed web becoming more powerful, yet we also can see what's going on now and how the initial idea of sharing the knowledge is fading, as the commercialization rate is growing.
Tim Berners-Lee is not only a great mind, but also an amazing individual. English In retrospect, the growth of the Web seems almost inevitable, arising from characteristics of how the mind works and how people can interact with one another's ideas. In that sense, the story of its creation reminds me a bit of Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. In Vonnegut's novel, an illogical belief (Bokononism) is so in synch with the human mind that it spreads from person to person, like a force of nature.

Tim Berners-Lee tells his story in the first person, as autobiography, because the story of the Web is the story of his life. He conceived it, implemented it, and now heads the effort to shepherd it forward and help it thrive despite challenges from big business, big government, and clueless interpreters of the law, worldwide.

Over the years, the idea of the Web slowly formed in his mind. Inventing the World Wide Web involved my growing realization that there was a power in arranging ideas in an unconstrained, weblike way. And that awareness came to me through precisely that kind of process. The Web arose as the answer to an open challenge, through the swirling together of influences, ideas, and realizations from many sides, until, by the wondrous offices of the human mind, a new concept jelled. It was a process of accretion, not the linear solving of one well-defined problem after another. (p. 3)

Suppose all the information stored on computers everywhere were linked... Suppose I could program my computer to create a space in which anything could be linked to anything... Once a bit of information in that space was labeled with an address, I could tell my computer to get it. By being able to reference anything with equal ease, a computer could represent associations between things that might seem unrelated but somehow did, in fact, share a relationship. A web of information would form. (p. 4)

The power of this idea directly related to its simplicity and to the lack of central control.

The art was to define the few basic, common rules of 'protocol' that would allow one computer to talk to another, in such a way that when all computers everywhere did it, the system would thrive, not break down. For the Web, those elements were in decreasing order of importance, universal resource identifiers (URIs), the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), and the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML).

What was often difficult for people to understand about the design was that there was nothing else beyond URIs, HTTP, and HTML. There was no central computer 'controlling' the Web, no single network on which these protocols worked, not even an organization anywhere that 'ran' the Web. The Web was not a physical 'thing' that existed in a certain 'place.' It was a 'space' in which information could exist. (p. 36)

When he looks ahead to the potential future impact of the Web on the world, he gets mystical.

If we succeed, creativity will arise across larger and more diverse groups. These high-level activities, which have occurred just within one human's brain, will occur among ever-larger, more interconnected groups of people acting as if they shared a larger intuitive brain. It is an intriguing analogy. Perhaps that late-night surfing is not such a waste of time after all: It is just the Web dreaming. (pp. 201-202)

He now approaches this life-long challenge with a sort of religious awe and sense of responsibility toward humanity. The mindset in some ways is similar to the corporate culture of Digital Equipment under the guidance of Ken Olsen, where rule number one was do the right thing.

I feel that to deliberately build a society, incrementally, using the best ideas we have, is our duty and will also be the most fun. We are slowly learning the value of decentralized, diverse systems, and of mutual respect and tolerance. Whether you put it down to evolution or your favorite spirit, the neat thing is that we seem as humans to be tuned so that we do in the end get the most fun out of doing the 'right' thing. (p. 205)

The Web has been an important part of my life since 1993, so many of the events recounted in this book sound familiar, though I remember them in a different context. It's illuminating to see them all unfold through the perspective of the Web's creator. It's also disorienting to re-experience the central story of your own time presented as history -- to read about these events from the perspective of their long-term meaning -- with a beginning, a middle, and an end -- rather than as we heard about them or encountered their effects day-by-day, as disconnected happenings in an open-ended, continuing present-tense, with many possible outcomes. And it's gratifying to discover that behind it all at the beginning and guiding now -- collaboratively, unobtrusively through the World Wide Web Consortium -- is someone motivated and inspired by an optimistic vision based on faith in the human spirit -- a vision of the future totally different from the dark satiric world of Kurt Vonnegut.

This system produced a weird and wonderful machine, which needed care to maintain, but could take advantage of the ingenuity, inspiration, and intuition of individuals in a special way. That, from the start, has been my goal for the World Wide Web.

Hope in life comes form the interconnections among all the people in the world... We find the journey more and more exciting, but we don't expect it to end...

Tim Berners-Lee concludes The experience of seeing the Web take off by the grassroots effort of thousands gives me tremendous hope that if we have the individual will, we can collectively make of our world what we want. (p. 209) English