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Weaving the Web : The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web by its Inventor Hardcover – September 22, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0062515865 ISBN-10: 0062515861 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If you can read this review (and voice your opinion about his book on Amazon.com), you have Tim Berners-Lee to thank. When you've read his no-nonsense account of how he invented the World Wide Web, you'll want to thank him again, for the sheer coolness of his ideas. One day in 1980, Berners-Lee, an Oxford-trained computer consultant, got a random thought: "Suppose all the information stored on computers everywhere were linked?" So he created a system to give every "page" on a computer a standard address (now called a URL, or Universal Resource Locator), accessible via the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), formatted with the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), and visible with the first browser, which did the trick of linking us all up.

He may be the most self-effacing genius of the computer age, and his egalitarian mind is evident in the names he rejected for his invention: "I thought of Mine of Information, or MOI, but moi in French means 'me,' and that was too egocentric.... The Information Mine (TIM) was even more egocentric!" Also, a mine is a passive repository; the Web is something that grows inexorably from everyone's contributions. Berners-Lee fully credits the colorful characters who helped him get the bobsled of progress going--one colleague times his haircuts to match the solstices--but he's stubbornly independent-minded. His quest is to make the Web "a place where the whim of a human being and the reasoning of a machine coexist in an ideal, powerful mixture."

Hard-core tech types may wish Berners-Lee had gone into deeper detail about the road ahead: the "boon and threat" of XML, free vs. commercial software, VRML 3-D imaging, and such. But he wants everyone in on the debate, so he wrote a brisk book that virtually anyone can understand. --Tim Appelo

From Publishers Weekly

This lucid but impersonal memoir conveys some vital history and intriguing philosophy concerning the Internet, written by the man who invented such ubiquitous terms as URL, HTML and World Wide Web. British-born physicist Berners-Lee is now the director of the World Wide Web Consortium, which is based at MIT and sets software standards for the Web. In the late 1980s, he wrote the first programs that set up the Web, thus revolutionizing the Internet by allowing users to hyperlink among the world's computers. It was a quantum conceptual leap, and not everyone instantly understood it (some researchers had to be convinced that posting information was better than writing custom programs to transfer it). The release of graphical browsers such as Netscape Navigator made the Web much easier for home users to navigate and led to the commercialization of the Net. Although Berners-Lee calmly eschewed opportunities to get rich, he doesn't subscribe to the notion, common among pre-Web denizens of the Internet, that commercialization is a pox upon cyberspace. After short takes on current issues like privacy and pornography, Berners-Lee moves into prediction and prescription: the Web needs more intuitive interfaces and integration of tools, "annotation servers" that allow comments to be posted on documents and "social machines" that enable national plebiscites. And while he's no digital utopian, he thinks an Internet that balances decentralization and centralization can contribute to a more harmonious society. Berners-Lee's tone is more lofty than quotidian. He'd rather muse about the benefits of decentralization that his revolutionary technology makes possible than respond to Internet skeptics and critics. But he was very, very right a decade ago, and he's well worth reading now. First serial to Vanity Fair; 7-city author tour; 25-city radio campaign.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (September 22, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062515861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062515865
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #727,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Keola Donaghy on December 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Weaving The Web is a wonderful blending of three distinct subjects: the history of the World Wide Web, an astute analysis of the web's "current" state, that is, where it stands in the middle of 1999, and where it's founder believes and thinks it is headed. It is difficult to believe the accuracy of Berners-Lee's vision of what the web could be in the time that the web was just a dream, and how he worked to achieve it. He also dispels the common belief that he either disdains the accumulation of wealth that could have been his had he chosen a different path, or that he envies those individuals who have made millions (or billions) by building on the web's humble beginnings. He also does not begrudge the commercialization over the web, as many academics did at the time when the web was viewed primarily as a medium for the free sharing of ideas and information.
Berners-Lee talks in depth about the social implications of technology, and indeed the World Wide Web is a social beast as much as it is a technological one. He does separate, however, the duties of bodies like the W3C whose sole purpose is to facilitate and strengthen the standards and protocols that are providing new richness and robustness to the web. This is clearly highlighted in his discussion of PICS, which allows for creation of rules that can facilitate filtering of objectionable material on the web. Berners-Lee makes the clear distinction between those who create the PICS technology, and those who decide how it will be implemented.
It is evident from this book that Berners-Lee is far from finished in his duties.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Pete Nelson on August 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have heard so many stories of the beginnings of the web, but for the first time, here is how it really happened. Tim Berners-Lee, the man who developed the 'World Wide Web' now tells the tale of how all this hypertext-hoopla began.
Berners-Lee writes in plain english, allowing non-programmers to share in his vision and goals for a universal (or should that be uniform?) way to share information across the internet. Especially interesting is the history of the browser market itself, without all the 'browser-war' hype.
Best of all, this book does not read like a technical specification -- but is full of warmth and humor as we see Berners-Lee bring his brainchild to light.
I read "Where Wizards Stay Up Late: the Origins of the Internet" by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon, and desperately wished someone would do similar justice to the history of the web. Not only has someone now done just that, but that someone happens to be the inventor of the web! What more could you ask for?
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an amazing account of how the Web came to be by the man who pulled together the ideas of many others to create it. Considering how much his invention has changed the world, he is incredibly humble in telling his story. Very easy and fast read. Also provides a good background knowledge of the technical side for those interested in creating for the Web. Which, as he states over and over again, was one of the main reasons he created it; so people from anywhere, no matter who they were, could reach other people and share information. I found the technical information very easily absorbed and easy to understand. But I want to point out this is NOT a techy, how-to manual, full of jargon. Merely one man's story and an overview of the technology and ideas surrounding him. Highly recommend to anyone.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Duwayne Anderson on October 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, Berners-Lee has written a book that not only describes the invention and evolution of the Web, but also inspires commitment to high principles and deep introspection. Berners-Lee is clearly an intellect of the highest caliber, and his commitment to democratic principles in developing the Web is, to me, profoundly admirable. On the other hand, the author seems to labor under the common curse of most software engineers - an inability to clearly communicate ideas and concepts to the non-specialist. Though he tries in words to communicate these concepts, I believe that, overall, his attempt fails unless the reader first has some exposure to, and familiarity with the world-wide Web - an unacceptable pre-requisite for a book directed at the non-specialist.
The really unfortunate thing about this is that it does not need to be so. For example, the book has no figures and no tables (though it does have a glossary of the hundreds of acronyms used and a good index). A few well-designed figures and summary tables would help a great deal to unify concepts that are just plain fuzzy and awkward when described with words alone. If you've ever seen a Web site and hypertext you can pretty well follow along with the written descriptions, but how much more helpful it would have been to have a few (color) pictures illustrating what a well-constructed Web site with hyper text looks like.
The book does have its fine points. It is a first-hand look at how the Web came into existence, and how it is continuing to evolve today. It also explains efforts to make the Web more valuable.
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