Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web, but what does he think about memes?

Sir Tim Berners-Lee takes a moment to tell the Internet what he thinks about it.


Dylan Love


Posted on Mar 10, 2015   Updated on May 29, 2021, 8:24 am CDT

Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the World Wide Web, did a Reddit AMA on Tuesday afternoon so redditors could ask him whatever their tech- and history-loving hearts desired.

Berners-Lee first proposed the idea of marrying hypertext with the Internet at Swedish research facility CERN in 1989, and he unrolled his creation the following year.

Here are a few of our favorite Reddit questions, along with answers from Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee. (Emphasis ours.)

bay400 asks: “What are your views/thoughts/feelings on net neutrality? What are your views/thoughts/feelings on the modern internet?”

Net neutrality is really important. Basically we do so much cool stuff on top of the network layer, it has to remain an unbiased infrastructure for all our discussion, innovation, etc. I must have the right to be able to communicate with whatever or whoever I want, without discrimination, be it political or commercial. See for example things I’ve said [here] and [here].

silentservant asks: “What is the single most valuable thing I can do to help the open Internet?”

Great question. Keep asking that question. Don’t take it for granted. Keep an eye on the situation in your town, your country, your company. In each year of using it, spend some time with others working or writing or lobbying or protesting as needed to keep it open.

ThePCIExpress asks: “With the developments about internet users’ privacy (or lack of) online, what would you recommend we do? Do we stand up to the government, or get around these problems with encryption etc?”

Great and very important question, with no simple answer. We must work with government to make them accountable when they use our personal data — however they got it. Just a battle of crypto might is not a solution, we also need to change laws and change the structure of government agencies. We need to give the police certain power in exchange for transparency and accountability. And we need to encrypt email and web traffic everywhere, for general security.

phoenixiss asks: “What do you think about memes?”

One does not simply ask the inventor of the WWW what he thinks about memes.

doppelganger3 asks: “Sir Tim, are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future relationship between technology in general terms and humankind?”

Well, the outcome is not a foregone conclusion, that tech will in fact end up working in humanity’s best interests. But we have a choice! These things are laws and tech standards and so on which actually we control. So it is up to us, where ‘us’ is humanity, and in general, about us, I am optimistic — so long as we keep our eyes on the prize.

gabovanlugo asks: “How do you see the web in the next 20 years? Any milestone to consider that changes the way we use internet?”

Well… We have had a whole campaign webwewant.org to ask people what sort for a web they want for the next 25 years. It is up to us, but hopefully we will lock down (in culture and where necessary law) the fact that it is open. The number of people using the web will soon cross the 50% and soon 75% of the world population, and then instead of worrying about getting the majority online the spotlight will b to those who remain disenfranchised in the remaining 25%, 10%. Milestone? When I have enough bandwidth to bring me a scene in wrap-around HD so my eyes and ears can’t tell I’m not in the other place.

H/T Reddit | Photo via Southbank Centre/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Mar 10, 2015, 5:13 pm CDT