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Tim Berners-Lee Attains Knighthood 539

sandalwood writes "Tim Berners-Lee has been promoted to Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire for coming up with that 'intarweb' thing we all use. Characteristically modest, he said that he was an ordinary person who created something that 'just happened to work out.' He will join luminaries like Isaac Newton, Francis Drake, and... Mick Jagger."
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Tim Berners-Lee Attains Knighthood

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  • by Shky ( 703024 ) * <shkyoleary&gmail,com> on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @09:59PM (#7841675) Homepage Journal
    "Tim Berners-Lee", of course, is just a clever pseudonym for Al Gore. The article failed to mention this.
    • May God Shiva Bless him and his offspring!
    • Re:Tsu Doe Nihm (Score:5, Informative)

      by K8Fan ( 37875 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @02:41AM (#7843266) Journal

      Sorry, but this is a pet peeve of mine. What Al Gore claimed was:

      During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet.

      A statement that is, in fact, true. All any politician can do to assist in any venture is to get a bill written to provide funding. Al Gore did that. At the time, he was considered a space case by his fellow Senators for insisting that the Internet would be important. Phillip Hallam-Baker of the web development team at CERN said:

      In the early days of the Web, he was a believer, not after the fact when our success was already established -- he gave us help when it counted. He got us the funding to set up at MIT after we got kicked out of CERN for being too successful. He also personally saw to it that the entire federal government set up Web sites. Before the White House site went online, he would show the prototype to each agency director who came into his office. At the end he would click on the link to their agency site. If it returned 'Not Found' the said director got a powerful message that he better have a Web site before he next saw the veep.

      ...and the creators of TCP/IP said this:

      Al Gore and the Internet

      By Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf

      Al Gore was the first political leader to recognize the importance of the Internet and to promote and support its development.

      No one person or even small group of persons exclusively "invented" the Internet. It is the result of many years of ongoing collaboration among people in government and the university community. But as the two people who designed the basic architecture and the core protocols that make the Internet work, we would like to acknowledge VP Gore's contributions as a Congressman, Senator and as Vice President. No other elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution over a longer period of time.

      Last year the Vice President made a straightforward statement on his role. He said: "During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet." We don't think, as some people have argued, that Gore intended to claim he "invented" the Internet. Moreover, there is no question in our minds that while serving as Senator, Gore's initiatives had a significant and beneficial effect on the still-evolving Internet. The fact of the matter is that Gore was talking about and promoting the Internet long before most people were listening. We feel it is timely to offer our perspective.

      As far back as the 1970s Congressman Gore promoted the idea of high speed telecommunications as an engine for both economic growth and the improvement of our educational system. He was the first elected official to grasp the potential of computer communications to have a broader impact than just improving the conduct of science and scholarship. Though easily forgotten, now, at the time this was an unproven and controversial concept. Our work on the Internet started in 1973 and was based on even earlier work that took place in the mid-late 1960s. But the Internet, as we know it today, was not deployed until 1983. When the Internet was still in the early stages of its deployment, Congressman Gore provided intellectual leadership by helping create the vision of the potential benefits of high speed computing and communication. As an example, he sponsored hearings on how advanced technologies might be put to use in areas like coordinating the response of government agencies to natural disasters and other crises.

      As a Senator in the 1980s Gore urged government agencies to consolidate what at the time were several dozen different and unconnected networks into an "Interagency Network." Working in a bi-partisan manner with officials in Ronald Reagan and George Bush's administrations, Gore secured the passage of the High Performance Computing and Communications Act in 1991. This "Gore Act" supported the Nati

  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by LordK3nn3th ( 715352 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @09:59PM (#7841676) he can slay orcs and save princesses like the best of us.
  • Wiki-Minded Guy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LordoftheFrings ( 570171 ) <null@frag f e s t . ca> on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @10:01PM (#7841702) Homepage
    From article:
    "The idea was that by writing something together, and as people worked on it, they could iron out misunderstanding."
    Sounds like the type of idea that got the idea of publicly editable wikis going. Somebody starts a basis of information, and the community smooths it out until it's comprehensive and intelligent (until the trolls get to it).
    • Sounds like Slashdot. Oh, hang on...

    • Re:Wiki-Minded Guy (Score:3, Informative)

      by mmcshane ( 155414 )
      Interesting that you put it that way. Berners-Lee's vision for "Intuitive Hypertext Editing" [] is very similar to wiki technology. However where wikis work by shoehorning editing into [rapidly aging] browser technology, TBL envisions a user agent that doesn't differentiate between browsing and editing. In other words, every page you view is editable by the user and changes are sent back to the server via PUT or POST.

      There's a mozilla extension that moves in this direction but I can't quite pull it out of my
  • hmmmm.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by freidog ( 706941 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @10:03PM (#7841716)
    Tim Berners-Lee Attains Knighthood does that come with +2 armour?
  • What if... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FlashpointWork ( 702525 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @10:11PM (#7841775)
    One wonders where we would be today with the WWW if Tim had chosen to patent his invention?
  • by dgerman ( 78602 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @10:12PM (#7841782) Homepage
    During the early 90's his research was put down by other Hypermedia researchers. Their view: "we've been there, done that; your implementation is too simple, too restrictive; our research is towards two directional linking..., other systems before you are better...". His first paper was rejected by the Hypertext Conference in 1991, and he settled for a demo table in the same venue.

    The key to his success is that he made it simple and free (as in beer)! Others, like Nelson's Xanadu, were too ambitious. Others, like Hypercards, Hypernotes, Hyperdisco, etc were never free.

    The BBC article highlights that in one of the side boxes: "Offered free on the Net".
    • Xanadu was _extremely_ nonfree. That's the major reason why it failed.
    • by big-magic ( 695949 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @10:42PM (#7841983)
      Well, just making it free was not enough. It was important that it was both free AND simple. It's yet another example of the dynamic "good enough is best" that occurs over and over. Making something too complicated in the beginning will kill its acceptance. But after its accepted, all the other features will be added on as users demand it. Now that the web is firmly entrenched, I wouldn't be surprised to see additional features from research projects like Xanadu being added to the web.

      Everyone should read the classic paper [] from Richard Gabriel that discusses this "good enough is best" in the context of lisp and unix. Although it's a little old now, it's still a good read even for those with no interest in lisp.

      • Don't you mean:

        "itth thill a good read even for thothse with no interetht in lithp?"

  • Well I'll be. That infotainment super-highball is worth at least one plated medallion.

    Good on ya, ya limey suisse.
  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HRbnjR ( 12398 ) <> on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @10:12PM (#7841786) Homepage
    I'm glad to see TBL get some more recognition. The original concepts [] behind html and semantic markup were well designed for their time and deserve more recognition. 99% of web designers today seem to have no idea why they should be using 'em' instead of 'b' tags, nor do many seem to even care about semantics and platform neutral markup. TBL and his semantic web ideas need all the recognition they can get.
    • Re:Good (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iabervon ( 1971 )
      You can't really blame people for not getting into the semantic markup thing; until recently, the W3C itself was using table tags on their front page to do sidebars. For that matter, they're now using CSS to do sidebars, which means that it takes two extra http requests to determine that certain parts are supposed to be floated, and there's no indication anywhere that the navigation links aren't part of the main content of the page.
  • ARPANET Video (Score:4, Interesting)

    by N8F8 ( 4562 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @10:13PM (#7841795)
    A few years ago I watched a special on PBS about the birth of the Internet. The astounding thing was watching a video featuring a dozen guys hanging around a chalkboard laying out the eight or so connections that formed the forst internet web. No fancy electronics, just a groupd of guys standing around a chalkboard and talking.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The astounding thing was watching a video featuring a dozen guys hanging around a chalkboard laying out the eight or so connections that formed the forst internet web.

      But which one of them got Forst Pist?
  • Serious Question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EmCeeHawking ( 720424 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @10:14PM (#7841805)
    Preface: not a troll

    Could someone please explain to me the British fetish for its Monarchy ? The government is now a constitutional democracy, so why is there so much homage paid to the archaic traditions and figureheads of the past?

    A great example of this is the insane media land-grab over Princess Diana's death. Hundreds of thousands of people die in traffic accidents each year - why was hers so deserving of three whole months of media coverage, weeping, wailing, and moaning?
    • by Art Tatum ( 6890 )
      I don't know. But I ask the same question about our American media. Why the hell does our media latch on to stories like the Laci Peterson murder, Kobe Bryant, or Michael Jackson? Plenty of people are murdered or raped every day, but they don't get media coverage. I'm not on the jury, so the details of these cases are completely useless to me. Yet that's about all you can find on major media outlets. For the last time, we don't give a damn about Jackson, Bryant, Peterson, Limbaugh, or anybody else. J
      • For the last time, we don't give a damn about Jackson, Bryant, Peterson, Limbaugh, or anybody else. Just shut up about it already and report some REAL news.

        I'm not sure who you refer to as we, but it's not the majority of people. The general public loves celebrities, yellow press and the whole star-mania. It's the glamour, the wealth, the dirty secrets. Maybe the ordinary guy can dream about the what-if scenario of being in that position, etc., that's probably dealt with in psychology 101.

        That stuff sell
      • by be-fan ( 61476 )
        Plenty of people are murdered or raped every day, but they don't get media coverage.
        Jefferson said that everyone is created equal, not that everyone is equally interesting. It's foolish to pretend otherwise. Everyone is more affected when something happens to someone they know, either personally or publically. The majority of the public is enjoys watching sports, movies, and TV, or listening to music. They know the personalities involved with these. Ergo, when
    • I'm british, and I don't understand it either.
      Personally, I'd sell the lot for dog-food.

      But then, I've never understood the American fascination with the Kennedys.
    • Re:Serious Question (Score:5, Informative)

      by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @10:25PM (#7841885) Homepage Journal
      It's not a constitutional democracy, it's a constitutional monarchy. Elections are provided on a routine basis to elect lawmakers (which is what makes the country democratic - the legislature is accountable to the people ruled, but note that there is no constitutional guarantee of this, it just happens, and while it does, Britain is democratic), but on a technical, constitutional basis, if the Queen wanted to veto a law, disband a government, or do many other things we'd consider undemocratic, she'd be within her technical, constitutional, rights.

      She'd also be overthrown the next day.

      As far as Diana goes, that had little to do with the Royals. By all accounts, the royal family and Diana disliked one another immensely. Diana was a ludicrously popular woman whose marriage to Charles was what brought her into the public eye. By all accounts, talking to my American friends, almost as many Americans went nuts after her death as Brits. It wasn't because people saw her as a royal.

      • Hehe...I read your post and thought of the first "Naked Gun" movie:

        Leslie Neilson: "Protecting the, uh, safety of the Queen is a task gladly accepted by Police Squad. For no matter how silly the idea of having a Queen may be to us, as Americans we must be kind, considerate hosts."
    • In part, I think it is a reaction to today's fast-paced cultural changes. Many people appreciate links back to what they see as a simpler time, regardless of the historical truths of disease and lawlessness.

      It's all about traditions. It is our traditions that make our society what it is. For the British, the monarchy is a large part of that tradition. The actual personages aren't important so much as the symbol of security.

      In a fast-changing society, many people like to hold onto something unchanging,
      • I pretty much agree to this comment about stability. In general, except in very rare situations, the monarchy does not interfere.
        I live in Australia where the queen of England is technically our queen as well. In the last referendum about becoming a republic, I voted against it. I like our system of a figurehead who is there "just in case". They don't do anything except sign laws passed by parliament. They do have the power to sack a government and request new elections though. This makes governments not go
    • Re:Serious Question (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Faluzeer ( 583626 )
      "Could someone please explain to me the British fetish for its Monarchy ? The government is now a constitutional democracy, so why is there so much homage paid to the archaic traditions and figureheads of the past?"


      I am not sure that we do pay that much homage to them, certainly the Queen's Golden Jubilee Celebrations were tiny compared to those that happened for her silver jubilee (celebrating 50 & 25 years of being crowned).

      Yes there are a number of British people that do care a great deal abou
      • Hmm, correct me if I'm wrong, but following the beheading of the French monarchy and then the subsequent beheading of those that did the inital beheading, a rather short gentleman came to rule France and subsequently try to take over all of Europe ... ... so how tall are you exactly? ;)
    • I think the main attitude about the monarchy is that it works, so there's really no need to bother trying to fix it. Far beyond Britain itself, there's an entire empire of other countries whose constitutional systems are all tied in with the British monarchy. Removing it would require massive infrastructural changes all over the world. Plus, lots of people like it and they're prepared to pay for it.

      A great example of this is the insane media land-grab over Princess Diana's death. Hundreds of thous

    • Re:Serious Question (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mrogers ( 85392 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @11:48PM (#7842377)
      The government is now a constitutional democracy, so why is there so much homage paid to the archaic traditions and figureheads of the past?

      First, the British government isn't constitutional in the same sense as the US government - there's no single document called "the British constitution". The founders of the US followed the European rationalist tradition: decide how the country should be run, write it down and embalm it for all time. (Until you change your mind - France has had five constitutions in 200 years.) In contrast, Britain's constitution follows the empirical tradition: if it ain't broke, don't fix it; when it breaks, patch it. So the British constitution is a messy tangle of legislation, common law and long-standing conventions, developed over time in a piecemeal fashion. Sort of a "release early, release often" approach to constitutional law. If the British constitution is Linux then the US constitution is Mach. (And the Magna Carta is Unix, the European Convention on Human Rights is the BSD networking stack, and the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act was written by SCO. Enough of that analogy.)

      The book Systemantics, reviewed on Slashdot recently, claims that loosely-coupled systems developed in a piecemeal fashion are more stable than well-designed, tightly-coupled systems. I don't know if that's true of constitutions, but Britain has had a relatively peaceful (if slow) development from feudalism to near-democracy. Compared with almost any other country on Earth that's remarkably stable - even Belgium had a revolution.

      Second, I think you're wide of the mark when you say that homage is paid to archaic traditions. British people are (in my experience) rather skeptical and cynical compared to Americans. If we tolerate archaic institutions it probably has more to do with suspicion of anyone who wants to rebuild the country in his own image (*cough*Blair*cough*) than with veneration of the past. When I visit the US I'm struck by the number of flags on display and the generally jingoistic atmosphere (and not just in the last two years). Many people seem to treat the US constitution as a sacred text, so I wonder whether there isn't more homage paid to archaic institutions in the US than in Britain (although the institutions are somewhat less archaic).

      Most constitutions guaranteeing free speech and elections are as informative about the societies they allegedly define as a man saying 'Good morning' is about the weather.
      - Ernest Gellner
    • In America, the royals are the sons and daughters of the greatest of all the robber barons.

      In Britain, the royals are the sons and daughters of the greatest of all the feudal barons [which is the same as robber].

      In America, you are allowed to become a noble or start a new line of nobility by getting filthy rich and then buying yourself a Senator. You can then pass your wealth to your children so they can be nobles for having done nothing.

      In Britain, the Queen hands you a medal, and then you can possibly get a seat for yourself and your descendants in the House of Lords. You can then pass your wealth to your children so they can be nobles for having done nothing.

      At least in the UK, the monarchy has a lot of interesting history behind it, and some way cool outfits. Swords and capes! Now that is cool. Plus, the titles are awesome - for the king when the next one is: "His Most Britannic Majesty".

      In America, well, we just say, "Mr.Gates".

  • This is what knighthoods are about - accepting official appreciation of the work done to create the internet, an apolitical act. The poster above ridicules TB-L for accepting the award - it would be right and proper to decline for political reasons, but in this case there are none. Anyway, he's a nice guy. Matthew
  • by The Famous Druid ( 89404 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @10:20PM (#7841841)
    Not that there's anything wrong with that.
  • It amazes me... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guardian Hacker ( 644242 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @10:44PM (#7841995)
    that everyone knows the names of Edison, and for the most part, Tesla. But, when it comes to folks such as Tim Berners-Lee, J. Prespert Eckert, John W. Mauchly, etc. nobody has any clue who you're talking about.

    Unless I'm mistaken, the revolutions that these folks spurred were arguably as important to the state of modern society as was the lightbulb, telephone, or rail transit.
    • They're only famous a few decades after death - that's how it works. We should kill them now, for posterity :)
    • Re:It amazes me... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by CComMack ( 570314 )
      Then again, nobody has any clue who invented rail transit.

      This may be due in large part to the vague definition of "rail transit", but it still sounds like the name should have survived the last 200 years in the public conciousness.

      Similarly, a lot of the names of early computer pioneers change around in importance depending on what advances you consider to be the most groundbreaking. Sure, Eckert and Mauchly were important and should be venerated, but if you think ENIAC is overhyped and EDSAC/Z1/COLOS

  • Sir TBL (Score:2, Insightful)

    by snot.dotted ( 627646 )
    Well I wonder if TBL will ever be asked to go on a crusade to the holy land or re-claim brittany from those Frenchies. Theres certainly no damsels in distress, imprisoned in a tower by an evil uncle. There are no dragons left to slay and the holy grail got sold on ebay for $5.99 Sorry but a real knight belongs in our stories and myths. The highest honor we can give TBL is not a three letter prefix Sir, but the recogniton that his work, kick started all this web stuff and his ideas for the furture of the w
    • Re:Sir TBL (Score:3, Insightful)

      The highest honor we can give TBL is not a three letter prefix Sir, but the recogniton that his work, kick started all this web stuff and his ideas for the furture of the web are more important than making a fast buck.

      The "three letter prefix" is exactly what you describe -- a very public recognition of what his ideas have achieved.

  • by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @11:38PM (#7842320) Homepage Journal
    Whatever else a knighthood brings with it it's got to be a great pickup line and a geek can use all the help available.
  • by marnanel ( 98063 ) < minus painter> on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @12:30AM (#7842593) Homepage Journal

    Good for him! and about time too.

    And why stop at a knighthood? They should make him an Url.

  • Who NEEDS it? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @12:31AM (#7842606) Homepage
    This will certainly be redundant, but there are many that have refused Knighthood for example they include rock star David Bowie, Nigella Lawson, John Cleese, Kenneth Branagh, Albert Finney, Vanessa Redgrave, and many more. Knighthood is a pathetic extension of imperialism that no longer exists.
  • by haggar ( 72771 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @08:13AM (#7844115) Homepage Journal
    I sense that americans are in a sort of awe, giving to the title of Knight more weight than it deserves.

    But britons certainly know that there are and have been many "Knights" that they wouldn't want to be associated with. Lord Archer, for one. And a whole host of showbiz people whose only mind was to get rich at the expense of art.
  • by An Anonymous Hero ( 443895 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @09:04AM (#7844287)

    Good to see Knighthood now represented at MIT's innermost, by a Midknight Kommander no less!

    Let's hope Gnighthood is next for RMS.

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