In August 1991, Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the first website. Fourteen years on, he tells BBC Newsnight’s Mark Lawson how blogging is closer to his original idea about a read/write web.

Mark Lawson: Because of your invention, I was able to look up every article written by or about you quickly and easily. But at the same time, I was sent several unsolicited links to porn sites. I have to accept that someone in Mexico may have stolen my identity and now be using it. Is the latter absolutely worth paying for the former?



Tim Berners-Lee: That’s an interesting question that you ask, as though it’s a yes or no answer. As though our choice is to turn off the whole thing, or turn on the whole thing. I feel that the web should be something, which basically doesn’t try to coerce people into putting particular sorts of things on it.



I feel that we need to individually work on putting good things on it, finding ways to protect ourselves from accidentally finding the bad stuff, and that at the end of the day, a lot of the problems of bad information out there, things that you don’t like, are problems with humanity.



This is humanity which is communicating over the web, just as it’s communicating over so many other different media. I think it’s a more complicated question we have to; first of all, make it a universal medium, and secondly we have to work to make sure that that it supports the sort of society that we want to build on top of it.



ML: When you think in terms of what it has allowed, what is the achievement of the web?



TBL: It’s a new medium, it’s a universal medium and it’s not itself a medium which inherently makes people do good things, or bad things. It allows people to do what they want to do more efficiently. It allows people to exist in an information space which doesn’t know geographical boundaries. My hope is that it’ll be very positive in bringing people together around the planet, because it’ll make communication between different countries more possible.



But on the other hand I see it as a substrate for humanity, I see it as something on which humanity will do what humanity does and the questions as to what we as individuals and we collectively do, are still just as important and just as much as before, up to us.



ML: But do you feel responsible? You say humanity will do whatever it does with it, do you feel responsible for what happens?



TBL: I do not feel responsible for everything that humanity does, no. I suppose I feel a responsibility when people take on the web expecting one thing and get something else, so yes I suppose that’s partly why I’m involved with the World Wide Web Consortium, and lots of other people are trying to make it better.



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