Programming ability is the new digital divide: Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee says lack of programming knowledge leaves users at the mercy of corporations

By Stephen Bell, Computerworld New Zealand |  IT Management, programming, Tim Berners-Lee

Openness and the free (in both senses of the word) ethos were an early stimulus for use of the web, its inventor pointed out. The University of Minnesota, which produced Gopher, an early tool for finding documents through the internet, wanted to start charging for it. This, says Berners-Lee, encouraged people to look to his own free offering.

One of the first principles of an open standard, he says, is that is that you shouldn't have to pay to get a copy of the standards document -- as is demanded, for example, by the International Standards Organisation. A key feature of web standards too is that anyone should be able -- indeed encouraged -- to be involved in criticising and developing the standard. "Almost everybody out there [in the technically minded web community] has an idea for a tag that should be in the html standard," he says.

Early writers of browsers adopted the open-source principle, freely trading bits of code among themselves and this spirit continues to inform the web. Patents are permissible under W3C principles, but use of the patented features is kept royalty-free.


Originally published on Computerworld New Zealand |  Click here to read the original story.
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