Working together for standards The Web Standards Project

If you missed Tim Berners-Lee’s lecture to the Royal Society, The Future of the World Wide Web, that was webcast earlier this week, it’s now available on demand. (Requires RealPlayer plug-in.) He starts out by examining how we got to where we are today and then moves on to look at where we’re heading, focusing predominantly on the Semantic Web.

Of particular interest in light of recent patent disputes and royalty issues, Tim repeatedly raises the fact that the Web would not be where it is today had it not been created as an open platform.

So that was the idea of the Web, that it’s a universal space and should be able to have anything. And this is the idea of minimal design requirements—imposing minimal constraints on the people who are going to use it or the people who are going to design parts of it. … There are a few constraints you have to work under—there are a few standards. So the whole thing hangs on standards, and if you just go away understanding that, of course, it will have been a wonderfully productive evening.

And later:

We also have tried to set [the W3C] up as a place where the standards could be royalty-free. That whole graph you saw only happened because HTML was royalty-free. All the exciting enhancements which were made to HTML only happened because anybody could take the HTML browser, write a new one in their garage, and then post to the Net their new ideas. So new ideas for how the Web could get better were coming from all over. And they were coming from all over because the initial Web was an open standard.

Make sure you stick around for the Q&A session at the end of the lecture, or you might miss some gems like this one:

Question from Web: How can you let yourself be be broadcast on a system that insists we have IE 5+?

TBL: That’s disgusting. That’s disgusting. David, would you like to comment about that from the point of view of the Royal Society?

David (emcee): (rather bemusedly) No, I don’t know how that’s happened.

TBL: Well, actually I was just at the BBC earlier, and I’ve talked with them about that. And I’ll have the same discussion with the Royal Society afterwards. Thanks for that question. I’d point out that the W3C has not been involved in standards that area—in the area of streaming video—and we wonder sometimes if we shouldn’t have been.

Incidentally, the audio/video portion worked fine when I viewed it with a recent Firebird nightly, but without the synchronized slide images from the presentation. Those slides are also available from the W3C’s site.

Added by lloydi: A related article for you, Net guru peers into web’s future – “The inventor of the web, Tim Berners-Lee, outlines his ideas for a more ‘intelligent’ web in an interview with the BBC programme, Go Digital.”

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