October 13th: Guarded


You are reading this blog page. This means you have opened a browser (or an app, these days) and you typed newoldscience.com or you clicked on a link someone shared; this action triggered your computer to send a request to find “newoldscience.com” on the web; domain name servers (DNS) will redirect your request in the right direction until it finds the WordPress server where newoldscience.com is stored. The server will send back packages with the contents of the webpage you were looking for, the header, the footer, etc. Once the packages are in, the browser will make sense of it according to protocols and reconstruct the hypertext you are seeing on screen.

Now, imagine that there are no browsers, there is no concept of hypertext, there are no servers or nodes or the web. But you still really want to share information. If you are Tim Berner-Lee, this would not stop you.

Tim Berners-Lee is the engineer famous for the invention of the World-Wide-Web at Cern in the early 90s. This meant that he invented hypertext, hyperlinks, the first browser (that cool enough was also an editor), the first server and the first protocols to have the computers in the network at Cern being able to communicate the large amount of data it was generated in the science facility.  The first web page address was http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html is a geeky history pearl.

His story teaches us so much. It highlights the importance of fundamental research: studying particles physics might not have a direct known application, but there is a sheer amount of innovation accompanying this field. It also emphasises that knowledge is made to be shared. Especially, it should be shared freely, moreover when it can change people’s life.

Sir Burner-Lee did not patent the WWW and only a few years after he published it, he founded the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The W3C is a non-profit foundation with the aim to create standards for the Web. In other words, W3C, guided by Tim Berners-Lee, is guarding the WWW and its coherence against the pulling mechanism of the market.

If you wondering what’s going on here, I explained it on this blog post: Inking Science

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