Tim Berners-Lee: “Freedom, not free beer” at Campus Party 2012

tim berners-lee campus party 2012
tim berners-lee campus party 2012

The godfather of the worldwide web urges freedom of information, choosing web over mobile development and an open and collaborative internet

Campus Party Berlin 2012 and the last keynote speaker of the event takes to the stage. Tim Berners-Lee was the geek equivalent to Justin Bieber taking to the stage, and his appearance spawned fevered tweeting around his packed keynote.

tim berners-lee campus party 2012

The inventor of the World Wide Web went on at noon Saturday, to talk for 90 minutes on the future of the Web and the values that young hackers should aspire to. While his overview didn’t yield many surprises, it wasn’t short on nuggets of inspiration for the crowd…

Calling for a decentralised web

Berners-Lee, who developed the web standards HTML and HTTP in 1989 at CERN, encouraged Campuseros to call for a decentralised web experience: “This decentralisation allowed me to invent the web,” he said. “The web should be designed and used as a platform for anything”.

“In some countries the government is the problem, in others it’s companies, in some cases it’s both working together. Decentralisation is important for the freedom of the internet and important for creativity. You can’t just programme, you have to be an activist.”

Web over mobile developing

tim berners-leeBerners-Lee, director of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) went on to urge budding developers to programme for web apps rather than for mobile: “Wired declared the web is dead, and that mobile is the future. Not for me – I think this represents a negative excitement, a taking away from the web.”

“I think web apps are putting back this excitement – this year you’re going to see see big changes – APIs are improving for web apps and the open web platform is getting more powerful with HTML 5 being stabilised and CSS 3 gaining features such as transitions, animations and scalable vector graphics.”

“Free as in freedom, not as in free beer”

He also called for information to be openly available and shareable, but stressed that he meant the web should be “free” in terms of access, rather than in terms of free artistic content. “I mean ‘free’ as in freedom, not as in ‘free beer'”. There should be a spirit of openness and information should be available for free, but that doesn’t mean cost-free…

“Programmers need to respect the needs of musicians and artists to get paid for what they do. We should help with experimenting with different business models – voluntary payment, subscriptions, item-by-item payments – we need money to get back to the creative people…”

Regrets? I’d ditch the slashes…

When asked what he’d change if he were to invent the Web today, Berners-Lee admitted that he’d ditch the two slashes after “http://”. “Http:” would have sufficed completely. You have to keep it simple”.

Have fun and amaze yourself

Berners-Lee signed off with an inspirational message for the audience of programmers and tech-heads: “Have a great time programming. Continually amaze yourself with what you can achieve in an afternoon of programming, put it out on the web… and share using open-source licences.

“Share the spirit of coding and building things – and remember you’re dong it for the better of humanity…”

tim berners-lee audience