Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Tim Berners Lee keynote at WWW2007

Sir Tim was not an impressive speaker, nevertheless his talk had good food for thought.

He introduced concepts such as web science and the accompanying philosophical engineering.

He showed what seemed an innocent diagram with an iterative cycle that goes something like this: given a a web related engineering problem there are two parallel components to the solution being the social and the technical component, then the cycle goes from the micro to the macro adoption through some magical process (defining magic as something we don't have an explanation for yet) and eventually issues arise (a merely expectable result of entropy) and there's some magic or creative solution there as well. He ran the cycle with some examples that made it less cryptic, such as the email and search business, semantic web. The social component was new to the picture and he joked about something like "if you didn't realize the importance of the social component on the web engineering process you're not the smart geek your mom thought you were". Typical ironic English humor I guess.

Then he wondered about the shape of the web and declared the web is a fractal although not a 2 dimensional one.

Finally he went over the challenges:
. identity, information policy, privacy, trust models, transparency
. collective quality assessment, meritocracy
. new devices, an interesting concept: devices as a portal to the web "abstract space"
. user interface
. collective creativity

He was asked two interesting questions:

1. About how to make sure the semantic web will not get contaminated with spam. He answered that transparency and authentication would prevent it as well as he noticed that spam happens more naturally in a push environment as the email and not so much in a pull one as the web is (tell Google about it ;), not too agreeable, but anyway).

2. About how should we see the web as a whole as a collective consciousness. He answered after some in-understandable yada yada that "if you're a neuron you have no idea what the big brain is thinking, so if you're a neuron just enjoy". It was a pretty cool answer for me as it inherently draw a parallelism between the cell/brain and the person/web pairs which is no secret I love :)

I wanted to send a post live from my cell but the f@#! data connection on my verizon didn't want to work from Canada ...

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