World Wide Web Consortium
Not satisfied with merely giving birth to the original concept of connecting textual data across computer networks (a laurel he modestly shares with the many people who helped him), Tim Berners-Lee, 47, wants to remove the remaining boundaries of the World Wide Web, which has changed the way the world does business. He was instrumental in the creation of the Cambridge, Mass.-based World Wide Web Consortium, which oversees the development of Web standards?including HTML and XML. Now he has focused his attention on the continued dominance of open standards, the power of Web services and?perhaps most important?the idea of a Semantic Web.
Today’s Web contains oceans of data, though much of it is effectively inaccessible. Finding what you’re really looking for almost requires a fortuitous accident. Current search engines are still clumsy tools that match patterns of letters, maybe blended with a bit of statistics about what other people found interesting. They can’t identify related ideas that could be even more useful to the searcher. In Berners-Lee’s vision, a Semantic Web would allow machines to quickly analyze huge amounts of data, recognizing connections between ideas and providing links to whole worlds of new and relevant information.
The project is still in the early stages, awaiting industry support, advances in artificial intelligence and search software, and other progress. But when it comes to fruition, it will prove that Berners-Lee’s work in shaping the Web is anything but past tense.