The best of Tim Berners-Lee’s no holds barred Reddit AMA

The creator of the world wide web has been surprised by the amount of cats on the internet he revealed, as he took question from web users 25 years after creating the platform.

Time Berners-Lee, who was born in London, UK, answered queries on what has surprised him most about the web, what our future impressions of the internet will be and what will it be like in 25 years.

The probing was part of a Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) this week, as his creation celebrated its birthday.

Berners-Lee started off his AMA setting the scene from 25 years ago.

He said: “On March 12, 1989 I submitted my proposal for the World Wide Web. 25 years later, I’m amazed to see the many great things it’s achieved – transforming the way we talk, share and create. As we celebrate the Web’s 25th birthday (see webat25.org), I want us all to think about its future and ask how we can help make it a truly open, secure and creative platform – available to everyone.”

Here are some of the best questions and answers:

Q: What was one of the things you never thought the internet would be used for, but has actually become one of the main reasons people use the internet?

A: Kittens.

Q: Edward Snowden: Hero or Villain?

A: Because he: had no other alternative; engaged as a journalist / with a journalist to be careful of how what was released; provided an important net overall benefit to the world.

I think he should be protected, and we should have ways of protecting people like him. Because we can try to design perfect systems of government, and they will never be perfect, and when they fail, then the whistleblower may be all that saves society.

Q: What web browser do you use?

A: My default browser at the moment is Firefox. I also use Safari, Opera and Chrome each a reasonable amount. Firefox has the Tabulator plugin which does neat things with linked data.

If I am running a latest version of that (I check it straight out of github) which can be unstable, I’ll use one of the others for things which need to be stable. Joe Presbrey ported the plugin to Chrome too BTW

Q: Why does no one mention Robert Cailliau anymore when it comes to the www? Didn’t both of you invent it?

A: Robert didn’t invent it. I invented it by myself, and coded it up on a NeXT, but Robert was the first convert to it, and a massive supporter.He got resources together at CERN, helped find students, gave talks. He also later wrote some code for a Mac browser called “Samba”. He also put a lot of energy into persuading the CERN directorate that CERN should declare that it would not charge royalties for the WWW, which it did April 1993.

Q: What impact, if any, do you think digital currencies might have on how value is sent over the Internet?

A: I think that it is important to have lots of different ways getting money to creative people on the net.

So if we can have micropayment user interfaces which make it easy for me to pay people for stuff they write, play, perform, etc, in small amounts, then I hope that could be a way allowing people to actually make a serious business out of it. Flattr I found an interesting move in that direction.

Q: Do you think in the (not too distant) future we’ll look back and think ourselves lucky to have witnessed a neutral, free, and uncensored world wide web?

A: I think it is up to us. I’m not guessing, I’m hoping. Yes, I can imagine that all to easily. If ordinary web users are not sufficiently aware of threats and get involved and if necessary take to the streets like for SOPA and PIPA and ACTA. On balance? I am optimistic.

In pictures: Artwork made from coding

DevArt is a new type of art. It’s an art made by code that is trying to bring people’s attention to the fact that coding is more than numbers of a screen.

A competition is being run by Google and Barbican, in London, UK, to create art with code. The winner will be commissioned to create a new digital art installation at the Digital Revolution exhibition, which is the biggest ever exploration of digital creativity in the UK.

DevArt says on its website: “When it is pushed to its creative and technical limits, code can be used to create beautiful digital art installations. This art is called, DevArt.

“It is made with code, by developers that push the possibilities of creativity and technology. They use technology as the canvas and code as the raw materials to create innovative, engaging digital art installations.”

Here are some of our favourite artworks and projects so far – the shortlist for finalists will be announced on April 5 and you can find out more here. 

Maia Grotepass

Maia Grotepass

Maia says she is interested in making layers of software around us more visible.

She says: “Every word and image we share in a mediated way goes through software. We don’t even think about it anymore. There are people and machines who make decisions in these software layers. User experience design tries to give a sense of control to the user.”


Image courtesy of DevArt by Maia Grotepass.


Peter Koraca

Peter Koraca

The Walk in Mind project will be an interactive installation composed of 3-4 minute sessions which visitors walk around a projected circle.

Koraca said: “Their act of walking generates real-time procedural drawings of re-imagined cityscapes. Motion detection interprets their movements and affects the various parameters of the generative city inside it.”


Image courtesy of DevArt by Peter Koraca.


David Hoe

david hoe

This project, by David Hoe, aims to build an interactive tool to abstract art in a quick way.

Hoe says: “Give users a way to manipulate something that’s traditionally only allowed to be viewed. They can explore the variations around that piece in real-time, or simply start in a new mining location and generate something new.”


Image courtesy of DevArt by David Hoe.


Malcolm McDonald

malcolm mcdonald

Malcolm McDonald is hoping to create an infinite, un-finishable maze, that a small automated agent will explore – at their own peril.

McDonald said: “This maze will be automatically extended as the agent gets close to the edge, and the agent will patiently explore all dead-ends until the heat death of the universe, or the browser is closed, whichever happens first.”


Image courtesy of DevArt by Malcolm McDonald.


Philippe Brouard

Philippe Brouard

Blending together curves used in computer design has created this piece of art by Philippe Brouard that he hopes will help to build a user friendly interface.

Brouard said: “The code will be based on Parametric equation and Bezier curves will show the path from one point to another. I want to bring fun in this installation with many buttons and triggers. Handling them will update the curves live!”


Image courtesy of DevArt by Philippe Brouard.


 Bram Stolk

Bram Stolk

The evolution of micro processors inspired the artwork from Bram Stolk who took a random space filling algorithm and mapped it onto the technology inside the latest processors.

Stolk says: “Randomly tiling a bounded plane with an infinite number of non overlapping shapes is an interesting premise. To avoid running out of space one has to shrink each additional shape.”


Image and feature image courtesy of DevArt by Bram Stolk.


Peter Smuts

petersmuts

The data used for the artwork by Peter Smuts collects individual words from social media, combines them with words from Google Trends and a random selection of words from the Oxford English Dictionary.

Smuts says: “These words become both visual and etymological seeds for the creation of dynamic network visualizations and ‘exquisite corpse’ sentences (funny, sad, shocking, absurd, poetic and sometimes beautiful) constructed using the collected words and translated between languages using Google Translate.”


Image courtesy of DevArt by Peter Smuts.