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 Contents: UU World Back Issue

Inventor of World Wide Web is knighted by queen


Massachusetts Unitarian Universalist Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, was named a Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II of England “for services to the global development of the Internet.” As a British citizen Berners-Lee is now entitled to use the title “Sir Tim.”

Berners-Lee, who is director of the World Wide Web Consortium and a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, was knighted July 16.

In June, he was also awarded the $1.2 million Millennium Technology Prize in Helsinki, Finland. The award is from the Finnish Technology Award Foundation and was presented by Finnish President Tarja Halonen. The cash prize, subsidized by the government, is among the largest of its kind, and Berners-Lee is the first recipient. It honors "an outstanding innovation that directly promotes people's quality of life, is based on humane values, and encourages sustainable economic development."

Berners-Lee first proposed the Web in 1989 while developing ways to control computers remotely at CERN, the European nuclear research lab near Geneva. He never got the project formally approved, but continued to work on it. He fleshed out the core communication protocols needed for transmitting Web pages: HTTP, or hypertext transfer protocol, and the language used to create them, HTML. By the end of 1990, he finished the first browser, called “WorldWideWeb.” Although his inventions have undergone rapid changes, the underlying technology is the same.

One of his current projects, which experts say is potentially as revolutionary as the World Wide Web itself, is called the Semantic Web. The project is an attempt to standardize how information is stored on the Internet and to automatically organize data found on the Net into a “web” of concepts.

In accepting knighthood, Berners-Lee expressed hope that the new technology would offer a means of reconciliation: “As the technology becomes even more powerful and available, using more kinds of devices, I hope we learn how to use it as a medium for working together, and resolving misunderstandings on every scale.”

 Contents: UU World Back Issue
: 49

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