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on 3 February 2002
Most people don't understand how Internet is different from World Wide Web. The author, Tim Berners-Lee, shows how the web evolved from his work at CERN and how his own and other people's need led to the initial ideas of the web segmented ideas of HTTP, Internet and URI. He goes on to explain his vision of the web and also explains his decision of not starting his own company as so many others of his time did.
The book also delves into his efforts for making CERN a European hub- a counterpart to MIT in USA. The book then discusses his present role as director of the W3C consortium and its numerous reseachers.
Also, the book illustrates the need for
keeping the web decentralized and free from monopolistic technologies.
The book is meant for non-technical people as
well. Tim has to be congratuled for doing a thorough job and the book has a decent cover and printing - which all makes it an enriching experience to read.
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on 25 March 2003
For some reason I now seem to be reading a lot of computer / internet related books and I blame this book for starting it all.
It's a fascinating account of how the web evolved and gives you a real grass roots feel, to the now highly commercialised internet.
I have great respect for the author because unlike other famous software veterans, it was not his vision to profit from his development but to benefit others.
The book goes onto to describe the future of the internet in the view of its creator, as good a guess as any and you can see it already coming true. Look at XML its eveywhere.
Brilliant book fuels the desire to learn about the history and future of the technologies we have today and tomorrow.
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on 6 April 2000
Tim Berners-Lee ("TBL") has a story to tell rather than a web to weave. Readers looking for a deep technical account of how the web was built will be thoroughly disappointed as TBL writes in crystal clear colloquial english about his personal venture to bring people together to exchange information. In the process he tells us about the merits of unsung heroes and technologies. Readers seeking an autobiography would also better look elsewhere as TBL has no need for hagiographies.
TBL's story is nearly apologetic and devoid of any need to project an image. "Weaving the Web" tells the story of a team contributing to one of the last Millennium's major technological milestones. TBL introduces readers to the many who have graciously and silently contributed to the genesis of the web, most notably Robert Cailliau. They all have in common a desire to contribute to a worldwide effort aimed at making knowledge from all by all available to all. This necessitated the creation of today's key www components, HTML, URL and FTP/TCP IP enabling all internet users to create, find and call up documents or web sites. In the process of that creation, TBL tells us about the eternal human saga of reconciling opposing camps which seem sometimes more concerned about holding on to their acquired albeit flawed knowledge franchise rather than advancing the search for the new and the better.
Piously, TBL explains how the web was born out of a desire to facilitate CERN physicists' access to knowledge residing in the entrails of a disparate collection of operating systems. CERN itself seems to have financed this development nearly despite itself, as TBL humbly admits. However, to its credit and those of the European taxpayers, CERN famously made all the IP created in this process freely available to the world's citizens. Who was that CIA director famously writing in the Wall Street Journal (Mar 2000) that most of Europe's technology was not worthwhile to steal? Where would the NASDAQ have been without the dot.com revolution?
However pious he may be, TBL is neither a man to gladly suffer attempts to be swept under the carpet. Dryly, he describes the Transatlantic gusto for turning promising "open" technology into immediate money spinners which will only benefit "the few" and illustrates this with the NCSA's attempts to claim paternity rights over the web and the proprietary implementation of browsing technology by Marc Andreessen's Mosaic (later Netscape).
Throughout his venture, we see TBL encounter or write about the protagonists of the "open software" movement since brought into the limelight by LINUX, Young's "Under the Radar" and Eric Raymond's "The Cathedral and the Bazaar". Somewhat repetitively, TBL enthuses about the possible avenues for the web and, less provocatively than Bill Gates in "The Road Ahead", shares with us his vision for the future. As life would have it, nature mimmicks the story of the nascent web and TBL, the "modern man", tells us nearly incidentally how in the process of weaving the web he came to rock the cradle of his newly born ones- a far cry from the heroic biographies written about those macho daredevil pioneers.
In the book's introduction, TBL writes he had a story to tell, a record to set straight. I would venture to say he has done more than that. The continued use and growth of the web will be the major legacy of TBL and his fellow pilgrim surfers, whereas the book will be a reminder to Berners-Lee's children that their father was a talented anti-hero of whom they can, rightly, think proudly.
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VINE VOICEon 4 December 2003
Tim Berners-Lee explains how the Internet got started, but how he then conceived of the World Wide Web, all in a very non-technical way.
Berners-Lee is a very modest man, and tells a good story that makes you feel you were there.
He then takes us through his plans for the future of the WWW; obviously there are greater commercial forces now at play that might foil his plans, but good luck to him in his endeavours.
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on 6 March 2000
An excellent read. As many have commented, not actually a techie book (per se) but about a technical subject. The author describes the multiple incarnations and the reasoning behind it. He then goes on to describw how he trys to promote it, use the InterNet (NOT the Web!)
If you're old enough there are reference to machines & formats that will allow you to reminisce :) And certainly dipicts a well known scene of multiple O/S with multiple Formats for multiple users.... HTML or no HTML - this will still remain.
The latter 2-3 chapters do wander in to the mid-to-distant future and at the very end religious (very worrying - technology v theology).
On the whole easily worth the money. Couldn't put it down, not bad for a non-manual book :)
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on 6 December 1999
As an ex-CERN student, fellow and consultant at the time that the Web was being born I ordered "Weaving the Web" with great anticipation.
I was not disappointed. Tim explains in a very readable way the events that culminated in the creation of the Web and beyond.
His narrative style is excellent, especially as he describes his frustrations with CERN management (yes, I've been there!) and external organisations like NCSA, who attempted to usurp control over his creation.
My only criticism is that Tim is far too diplomatic in the book. I assume that this is because of his current obligations to the W3C - you can't really go around slandering W3C members :).
However, having said that, it is still possible to read between the lines and imagine the anger he must have experienced at times.
To summarise - a great read which most people interested in Web should enjoy.
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on 19 November 1999
Slip inside the recursive mind of a guy whose work has made cyber-surfing possible: "Inventing the World Wide Web involved my growing realization there was a power in arranging ideas in an unconstrained, weblike way. And that awareness came to me through precisely that kind of process." Mr. Berners-Lee wanted to enable the connection of anything to anything else; when you think about it, your browser is displaying this review as a direct result of his efforts. Without him, we'd all be stranded up the bitstream without a paddle.
If you keep adding salt to a glass of water, the saline mixture is eventually unable to hold any more crystals. But when you heat up that solution, more salt can dissolve into the liquid. After removing the heat and dropping in one last grain of salt, the supersaturated concoction quickly deposits its burden onto the newly-added seed crystal, which magically grows before your very eyes. On the web, concepts frequently germinate in a similar way, expanding by accretion around certain kernels. Bright ideas beget more and more ideas, often forming powerful chain reactions. A free think tank which serves the entire planet has finally opened for business, and its seed crystal can be traced back to one man.
Sure - along with all the great stuff provided by the W³, we're also deluged with misguided warnings about the latest virus hoax, hate-group rants, and naked photos of Ayatollah Kinky, but on the whole, it's a unique privilege to participate in this sinister/glorious/loopy cultural force during its Good Old Days. Our millennium's version of the Wild West myth is unfolding in front of us, and we're riding fences along the electronic frontier thanks to an inventor who will be ranked by future generations right up there with Gutenberg.
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on 16 November 1999
This book provides a unique insight into the thoughts and experiences of the man who essentially is responsible for the communications revolution. Like many people, I had heard of Tim Berners-Lee, but knew little about what he had actually accomplished and given to mankind. I believe in twenty years time, when we look back, Tim Berners-Lee will be hailed as one of the great minds of the 20th century. His contribution to mankind will be seen as enormous. But what struck me, after reading this book, was Berners-Lee's modesty mixed with a real passion for goodness that the Web will hopefully bring to mankind. Unlike many other books about the net and the web that I have read, there is a sense of drama and genuine vision in Weaving the Web not found in others. If you are remotely interested in the future, then this book should be taken seriously.
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on 17 January 2000
If this book is bought as anything other than a white paper on the future of the web, then the purchaser will be disappointed...but it is no less a book for that.
His web is an unusual but evangalising example of a medium succeeding despite the architecture not being "owned" by a corporation.
A great example of "life" finding a way.
Mr Berners-Lee will be sanctified for his determination to keep the web "open".
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on 7 March 2001
Addressed from a generally technologist's point of view, Berners-Lee nonetheless does much to convey the sense of adventure and optimism inherent in the whole process of the Web's evolution.
Although I found myself looking for a tighter narrative in sections, the book overall was concise, engaging and informative, dare I say inspiring.
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