Why Tim Berners-Lee is against the RAND

From his own account at http://www.w3.org/1999/04/13-tbl.html

"This is very important from the point of view of the World Wide Web 
Consortium cutting itself out of the loop as much as possible."
--Tim Berners-Lee, talk to the LCS 35th Anniversary celebrations, 
Cambridge Massachusetts, 1999/April/14. 

Why would Tim say this in a prior address, but now the W3C is trying
to put itself into the middle of the process!   What has changed?
Maybe Tim needs to re-read his own speech.

"The Consortium has a whole technical domain "Technology and Society" 
which recognizes that, at the end of the day, if we're not doing 
something for the Web of People, then we're really not doing 
something useful at all." -- Tim's concluding remarks at that speech.

"So that's the story of how the Web Consortium came to LCS. And the 
rest is more or less history and acronyms, and I won't to into the 
acronyms in case you are frightened about them. But basically things 
have been happening...

The fundamental thing about the space.  About this Web, as I said, is 
that anything can refer to anything. Otherwise it's no fun. You've 
got to be able to make the link to anything. It's no good asking 
people to put things on the Web, saying that anything of importance 
should have this "URL", if you then request anything else. To make 
such an audacious request you have to then release anything else. 

So that requires that the Web has completely minimalist design. We 
don't impose anything else. 

It has to be independent of anything. 

The great challenge, really the raison d'etre initially for getting 
the Web protocols out, 

was to be independent of hardware platform: 

to be able to see the stuff on the mainframe from your PC and to be 
able to see the stuff on the PC from the Mac. To get across those 
boundaries was at the time so huge and strange and unbelievable. 

And if we don't do things right it will be huge and strange and 
unbelievable again: we could go back down that route very easily.

It was important to get it should be independent of software. 

The World Wide Web originally was a client program called "World Wide 
Web". I eventually renamed the program because I didn't want the 
World Wide Web to be one program. It's very important that any 
program that can talk the World Wide Web protocols. (HTTP, HTML,...) 
can provide equivalent access to the information.

It's important that the Web should be independent of language and 

and I could now talk for two hours just about that. In the 
Consortium, just as we have a Web accessibility initiative addressed 
the question of accessibility, we have an activity which looks 
specifically about internationalization. But then you have to add 
culture, then you're talking about a whole lot more than just using 
Unicode and just making sure that you can make the letters go up and 
down the page instead of across the page.

It's important that the Web should be independent of quality of 

I don't want it to be somewhere where you would publish technical 
reports only after you had finished. If you can link to anything I 
want this to be part of the process. So the review of the technical 
report and the scribbling of the original note which led to the idea 
that became the project which resulted in the technical report should 
all be there and they should all be linked together. So it's very 
important that you should be able to instantly go in there and edit. 
(Now actually I'm very sorry that this is not my machine so I'm not 
using my editor. Otherwise I would be able to just go into this slide 
and put the cursor in the middle and edit the slide.) At the same 
time, when I use the word "quality," it's important to remember that 
the idea of quality is completely subjective. So the Web shouldn't 
have in it any particular built-in notion of what quality means at 

A really exciting thing would be if we could scale that ability to 
make intuitive leaps. I've always wanted to be able to do this with a 
group, of very bright, very enthusiastic people really interested in 
specific overlapping areas, say LCS, or all the people who are trying 
to find a cure for AIDS, or whatever. 

There are one, two, three, four, five, six dimensions 

I have mentioned along which documents on the Web can vary. 
Throughout all the history and through the future evolution it's been 
very important to maintain this invariance with all the fancy new 
ideas that came in. 

Every now and again we get a new suggestion that flagrantly violates 
one of these areas, and we have to find ways to turn it around and 
express it in a way which does not.  

Now, we can't,   every time somebody wants to think of a new idea, a 
new term, a new column in a database, have a global meeting to decide 
about it.  We have to let people invent new terms all the time as 
they do anyway, but just make sure there's no ambiguity. Also we have 
to allow people to combine more than one vocabulary in the document. 
We don't just want to make something which works; we want to make 
something which can evolve. 


** end of quotes from Tim Berners-Lee's article *****

Tim, if RAND does not do this then nothing does ...

If the W3C approves RAND then you can toss your six dimensions in the 
trash, for the Internet will become the wholly owned subsidiary of 
USA Inc.

Jerry Kreps
Lincoln, NE

Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 00:59:35 UTC