WEAVING THE WEB by Tim Berners-Lee


The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web


The inventor of the World Wide Web tells how he did it, and what it means. Berners-Lee traces the Web to a “play” program he invented in 1980, while a consultant at the CERN laboratories in Switzerland. “Enquire,” named after a Victorian advice book, stored information about the job in a nonhierarchical manner. The program impressed those who saw it, but nobody used it, and the disk containing it was eventually lost. But Berners-Lee was still interested in using computers to connect ideas. Returning to CERN a few years later, he began re-creating Enquire. One problem was allowing workers to use their preferred software without imposing a complex set of new rules governing access to the Web. Hypertext, which allowed any document to be linked to any other on the system, was the key to solving this problem. Also, by then, the Internet was beginning to come into existence in the US. Its standardized protocols seemed an ideal way to bridge between operating systems. By 1989, he was ready to create the Web. Progress was swift; within a year of its introduction, the number of users was doubling every three to four months. Berners-Lee acted as pitchman, convincing different groups to adopt standards that would increase the accessibility and utility of the Web. At last, CERN released the basic Web code and protocols into the public domain, without licensing fees—a step that insured that no hardware or software company would stand in the way of their propagation. Intent on keeping the Web universally accessible, Berners-Lee became head of the MIT-based World Wide Web Consortium, the arbiter of Web standards. In the final chapters of his book, he describes his visions for the Web: as a medium for collaboration, person-to-person and person-to-computer, ultimately restructuring society. Anyone who uses his invention can see how far that process has already come. A compelling combination of techno-history and visionary philosophy. (First serial to Vanity Fair; author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-06-251586-1
Page count: 224pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1999