Inventor of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners Lee was interviewed on American TV after the opening of the London Olympic Games. In the interview he revealed his gratitude to be a part of the ceremony and added his views on the openness of the internet.
Berners-Lee had tweeted live during the opening ceremony: “This is for everyone.” In the interview he said that it was “amazing for an non athlete to be involved in the opening ceremony” and added that it was “an honour to be asked but to also be a part of the amicable dramatized event”. His live tweet during the opening ceremony was his way of portraying the openness of the World Wide Web.
Berners-Lee has been a profound fighter for the openness of the Internet. During the CNN interview he was asked about internet censorship regimes, he claimed censorship to be “generally a bad thing” and added that he believes a strong government is one that allows its people to access reality through the internet. He carried on to say, “it’s a pity” that a weak government is one that is worried that it has to control information from its own citizens.
The IOC (International Olympic Committee) has guidelines for Olympic content being used on the Internet. Naturally they are very strict on copyright but they have also set out certain rules for social media and blogging for the Olympic games. The IOC have detailed that it is “acceptable for a participant or any other accredited person to do a personal posting, blog or tweet”. However, athletes using social media networks for the Olympics have to write in the first person and not assume the role of a journalist, along with a few other restrictions.
This strict control on the copyright of Olympic content by the IOC has lead to some debate about the freedom of information about the Olympics. When asked about this, Berners-Lee carefully explained the distinction between the openness of the internet and free internet, and noted that the marketplace is an important part of the web. He answered that we “can’t confuse openness of the internet by saying everything is for free” and added that sometimes websites, artists and musicians are willing to share their products for free but that is not always the case.
On the brighter side, Sir Tim Berners-Lee trusts that we will slowly see the censorship of the internet “slowly go away” as economically, governments will realize that in order for them to work effectively, the internet has to be open.
Only 25% of world population currently uses the internet with the remaining 75% without an internet access. In a previous interview, Berners-Lee had questioned whether this large percentage of people could live without internet use. “I initially assumed you should get them water first, you should get them healthcare and then it is the luxury of getting the web,” he said. “But it is not actually like that. The web can be pretty instrumental in getting them access to healthcare.”
We have previously seen how Berners-Lee has been a strong advocate for network neutrality and the openness of the internet as he had argued, “This is a question of principle, it’s a right to be able to access [the web] anywhere, and it’s a question of keeping the market open,” he says. “Whether you happen to be getting it over wired or Wi-Fi or Mi-Fi, it doesn’t have any bearing on the principles of free speech and connectivity.”
Sir Tim Berners-Lee reasons that access to the World Wide Web is a human right. After all, he noted, his goal in creating the web was to make something that could be used by everyone and not just an academic, business or government elite. When questioned about semantic web (a web of data collaborated in a format that computers understand) Berners-Lee excitedly stated “web of data is exploding right now” and “one of the things that is driving it is open government data”. Information about how a country is run is being uploaded onto the web and people pick up that information and “use it to great effect’ said Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
Berners-Lee believes that the Internet is for everyone and reinforced that message in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics through the use of social media network, Twitter.
During the opening ceremony NBC presenter Meredith Vieira observed that she didn’t know who Berners-Lee was. Luckily, the internet is accessible for her and others to search the World Wide Web for his name a suggestion made by NBC’s Matt Lauer.