Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tim Berners-Lee calls for the next leap: raw data

Through a recent post of one of my contacts, I got to view for a second time a presentation Tim Berners-Lee gave at TED for the 20 years of the web. What had not struck me the first time I saw the presentation is the claim Berners-Lee makes that everything we have today of the web resulted from the idea of hyperlink / hypertext. A big bang of sorts. 

It's almost a stereotype of the kind of claims brilliant conceptual types do, because they're so focused on discovery, innovation in its rawest form, beginnings and not necessarily finished forms... which is also one of the reasons why Tim Berners-Lee was not the many economic beneficiary of the discovery. Can you imagine the turn of events had he decided to patent the hyperlink idea and ask for a trillionth of a Euro for each hyperlink created? One of the reasons why I'm not a fan of extreme patenting and rigid copyright.

In this presentation Tim Berners-Lee calls from a new leap, which he thinks is as important as the hyperlink: open availability of raw data. Can you imagine what that means if he's right? I'm ready to bet he is and I'm ready to bet it's a matter that's far more important than data: it's a matter of civilization and a defining factor for civil liberties. 

His presentation  mentions several examples and he mentions the excellent work of Professor Hans Rosling that I covered in December 2006 in this post (here are the notes of Rossling's talk back then).

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