Tuesday, June 15, 2004

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Tim Berners-Lee finally makes a buck

Victoria Shannon has a nice story in the International Herald Tribune about how the inventor of the World Wide Web is finally reaping some rewards from his marvelous invention:

If Tim Berners-Lee had decided to patent his idea in 1989, the Internet would be a different place.

Instead, the World Wide Web became free to anyone who could make use of it. Many of those who did became rich: Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com), Jerry Yang (Yahoo), Pierre Omidyar (eBay) and Marc Andreessen (Netscape).

But not Berners-Lee, 49, a British scientist working at a Geneva research lab at the time.

That is why some people think it is fitting - or about time - that he finally becomes wealthy, with the award Tuesday of the world's largest technology prize, the Millennium Technology Prize from the Finnish Technology Award Foundation. The E1 million, or $1.2 million, prize for outstanding technological achievements that raised the quality of life is supported by the Finnish government and private contributors.

"It was a very nice surprise," Berners-Lee said in an interview Sunday as three days of ceremonies began here....

Because he and his colleague, Robert Cailliau, a Belgian, insisted on a license-free technology, today a Gateway computer with a Linux operating system and a browser made by Netscape can see the same Web page as any other personal computer, system software or Internet browser.

If his then-employer, CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, had sought royalties, Berners-Lee believes the world would have 16 different "webs" on the Internet today.

"Goodness knows, there were plenty of hypertext systems before that didn't interoperate," Berners-Lee said. "There would have been a CERN Web, a Microsoft one, there would have been a Digital one, Apple's HyperCard would have started reaching out Internet roots. And all of these things would have been incompatible."

Software patenting today, Berners-Lee says, has run amok.

Read the rest of the article to find out why.

We here at danieldrezner.com salute Mr. Berners-Lee for finally making a profit off of the Internet.

posted by Dan on 06.15.04 at 05:56 PM


Congrats to Berners-Lee. No one deserves it more. While hypercard might have been pretty cool, and you can have arguments on the technical superiority of other networking schema - but this isn't the place to get into it here.

As a furtherance to this post - a question to all: - which party looks more "favorably" on open source, do you think? There is evidence both ways, historically and currently.

My own perspective is that the Democratic party is the party that looks more favorably on open source - but only because the Liberatarian is so under-represented as a party. If you include liberatarian, then you could say neither Republican or Democrat.

And you have examples in every direction.

Tim Berners-Lee - Unitarian Universalist - pretty liberal position- dedicated to open source
Bill Gates and co. - pretty democratic (New Democrat?), and pretty committed to closed source.

Richard Stallman - pretty radical, but pretty libertarian - however anti-corporate.

Eric Raymond - he is "Armed and Dangerous" - need I say more? Libertarian to the core.

Linus Torvalds - pretty liberal. "His parents met at a protest rally".

So, the connection between enthusiasm about open-source and political views, seems to be pretty loose.

posted by: JC on 06.15.04 at 05:56 PM [permalink]

Let's get into it. My comments on HTTP, HTML, URLs, and all that text-based, non-object-oriented crap here and here among no doubt other places.

posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 06.15.04 at 05:56 PM [permalink]

Bill Gates and co. - pretty democratic (New Democrat?), and pretty committed to closed source.

According to Fundrace.org Bill Gates has made a $2k contribution to George W. Bush and to no one else.

posted by: gw on 06.15.04 at 05:56 PM [permalink]

Bill Gates should've written this guy a $1M check years ago, when it was worth more.

posted by: Andy on 06.15.04 at 05:56 PM [permalink]

Richard M. Stallman is no libertarian! Just see his web site:


He is a supporter of the Green Party. He doesn't just support free software/open source software, but he is on the record as stating that he would legally mandate that all software be open source--i.e., make closed source software illegal--if he could. I think it's safe to say that RMS is not a libertarian at all, but is some variant the various leftist totalitarian philosophies. I'd call him communist myself.

Eric S. Raymond is an anarcho-capitalist. Does that make him libertarian? Perhaps, if both anarchists and minarchists are considered libertarians.

posted by: Amarnath Santhanam on 06.15.04 at 05:56 PM [permalink]

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