(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

Tim Berners-Lee on the Importance of Blogging

Sunday, November 05, 2006
In two recent articles, one in The Guardian and one from the BBC, it appeared that Tim Berners-Lee, the scientist who invented the internet as we know it today, had decided blogs were part of the problem, not the solution. From The Guardian, for example:
Sir Tim believes devotees of blogging sites take too much information on trust: "The blogging world works by people reading blogs and linking to them. You're taking suggestions of what you read from people you trust. That, if you like, is a very simple system, but in fact the technology must help us express much more complicated feelings about who we'll trust with what." The next generation of the internet needs to be able to reassure users that they can establish the original source of the information they digest.

However, as Berners-Lee has not pointed out, these comments were taken out of context and that he's actually a blogger himself and a fan of blogging. From Berners-Lee's own blog in a post simply called "Blogging is great":
People have, since it started, complained about the fact that there is junk on the web. And as a universal medium, of course, it is important that the web itself doesn't try to decide what is publishable. The way quality works on the web is through links.

It works because reputable writers make links to things they consider reputable sources. So readers, when they find something distasteful or unreliable, don't just hit the back button once, they hit it twice. They remember not to follow links again through the page which took them there. One's chosen starting page, and a nurtured set of bookmarks, are the entrance points, then, to a selected subweb of information which one is generally inclined to trust and find valuable.

A great example of course is the blogging world. Blogs provide a gently evolving network of pointers of interest. [...] In a recent interview with the Guardian, alas, my attempt to explain this was turned upside down into a "blogging is one of the biggest perils" message. Sigh. I think they took their lead from an unfortunate BBC article, which for some reason stressed concerns about the web rather than excitement, failure modes rather than opportunities.

It seems quite telling and very affirming for the blogosphere that even when reputable news sources like the BBC had a different tack to that intended by an interviewee, the blogosphere can provide a space for those important corrections! Equally, it's fantastic to see the inventor of the web using blogs to express his voice most clearly.

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At 11/06/2006 03:45:00 pm, Blogger Graham Jones said...

Just a minor point. Tim Berners-Lee did not invent the Internet. He invented what has become the World Wide Web.

At 11/06/2006 03:50:00 pm, Blogger Tama said...

Graham, you are of course quite right. I could probably get away with "Berners-Lee invented the internet as most people understand it today" (since the web and the internet are used interchangably for the most part), but he wasn't there when (D)ARPANET came into being, so I take your point.

At 11/10/2006 07:24:00 am, Anonymous Yucky Mummy said...

Interesting comment: "The blogging world works by people reading blogs and linking to them." That's not how I blog (although I now realise that if you don't connect to other blogs you've got buckley's chance of ever getting noticed). I try to write original things and only occassionally is this about things already in the news. But then my blog is about the minutiae of motherhood!


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