Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web by Its Inventor Hardcover – 1 Oct 1999
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Building the Internet was the collective achievement of hundreds of engineers and scientists. The intriguing thing about the World Wide Web is that, alone among Internet technologies, it was conceived and created by a single individual--the English physicist Tim Berners-Lee. He articulated the vision of a global universe of linked documents, wrote the first browser and server programs and came up with the protocols and acronynms(HTTP, URL, HTML, WWW) which are now part of all our lives.
Given the way the Web has become the dominant communications technology of our time, one could argue that Berners-Lee is the guy who invented the future. Yet up to now he has remained reticent about how he did it. Weaving the Web is therefore the definitive account of how the World Wide Web came to be. No one else could have written this book--the history of the Web straight from the source. Yet it's a characteristically modest and self-effacing book, in which Berners-Lee relegates the story of how he came to create the Web to the first 90 pages. They make riveting reading as they tell a story of ingenuity and persistence and vision; but most of all they tell a remarkable parable about civic values. The Intellectual Property Rights embodied in the Web could have made Berners-Lee the richest man in history. Yet he turned his back on the money and set his creation free. He was determined from the outset that the Web should belong not to him but to us.
The remaining 130 pages are devoted to an account of how he implemented this commitment to the public domain by setting up the World Wide Web Consortium--the organisation he created to ensure that that the Web continues to develop without becoming the proprietary reserve of the powerful corporations which aspire to control it. Through this account--of protocol wars and technical disputes and unbearable pressures--runs a consistent vision challenging the prevailing orthodoxy which regards the Web simply as a wonderful new way of doing business. Of course it is a new way of doing business--but in Berners-Lee's view that is perhaps the least interesting thing about the Web He continues to view the Web as he has always seen it--as a medium that can codify the sum total of human knowledge and understanding. Weaving the Web is an unforgettable testimony to that heroic vision. --John Naughton --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
The birth of this modest, affable fellow's baby is fascinating. -- The Guardian
This book is crisply written and fills in many details in the story of the Internet...in a style that is something of a relief from the swashbuckling tales found elsewhere. -- Computer Business Review
Tim Berners-Lee reads, as he has acted for a decade, as a real hero of our e-times. -- Robin Hunt, Management Today --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
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.
Also good to understand the history of the W3C and how important they've been in coordinating rather than dictating the evolution of the web.
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.
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.
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 :)
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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