Feeds

Tim Berners Lee goes postal on spam

The Greatest Living Briton explodes

Boost IT visibility and business value

The GLB stuck to his account:

But AltaVista never gave good results. It never did this Eigenvector calculation. It never found the representative page for a given community. It would find pages which contained the page a lot of times it wouldn't do any link analysis. The older search engines before Eigenvector machine systems came out were just never as good. And even, still, yes, they're being spammed, [inaudible] but it hasn't made the search engines less usable they're still much more usable than the previous generation

But Google has a real problem, here, and it employs some of the cleverest people in the world.

" You'll have to figure out something Google can't figure out if your research is going to be worth anything," El Reg asked.

"How will you do that, exactly?"

Sir Tim replied:

It's about much more than people defending against abusing the system. There are a huge number of opportunities that will make the industry work more efficiently.

But he was getting snidey:

In your life, do you feel that spoofing of search engines is the main thing, the one that bugs you?

So, er .. the cornerstone of the New Economy wasn't a concern. (I'll explain why this answer was somewhat short of being satisfactory, but let's continue with what happened next.

Scenting blood, another reporter pursued the enquiry:

"So how are you going to stop the Semantic Web being poisoned?"

TBL, the GLB, replied:

Well, everybody who's building the semantic web pretty much that I know are building systems take data from lots of places, but take data with an awareness of where those places are. So for example, suppose you're getting Geotags and the OS runs a service, lots of people in this country might trust the OS to say this point has a church with a spire - other people might say it's a great church to go to, other people might say it's a heathen church to go to... those are the other sources of data...

There was no let up from the press:

"But that was the basis for Google, and Google got poisoned... "

Shadbolt and Hendler stepped in to shield Sir Tim, but he was seething at the impertinence:

I remember a conference, we were discussing the Semantic Web, and someone asked what do you think is the worst thing that can happen and all the pencils come out. I know you two have been asking about "Woargh - I know the one about... what about the bad guys? Won't we be phished" There's a temptation to give readers about all the terrible things out there OK, and all the ways the web can become less usable.

At this point, your reporter wanted to remind Sir Tim that of all the problems the web has, a hostile press is not one of them. In fact, you can't pick up a newspaper or magazine without reading about how it's ushering in a New Age of Enlightenment. Time magazine gave "Person Of The Year" to every web user in America - or at least every one who looked at the mirror Time placed on its front cover.

He continued, cryptically:

Yes you'll find a bank that's less usable - ... I've never been phished.

So the Greatest Living Briton has never been phished, which is a relief. His answer to the Semantic Web didn't inspire much confidence for the rest of us: it would be used within the firewall, amongst trusted groups, "areas where one is much less worrying about the bad guys".

Here's what I found both disquieting and depressing from the GBL.

I've asked similar questions to engineers in every field. Without exception, all have thought deeply about the consequences of their original design decisions, and express quite specific solutions. These are often quite radical rewrites - throwing out many of the assumptions they first made.

But not with the Web. It's a place to marvel and hope, and like Candide, hope for the best.

If you're not already evangelical, you probably don't have a part to play in the "new science" of the Web. ®

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
What FTC lawsuit? T-Mobile US touts 10GB, $100 family-of-4 plan
Folks 'could use that money for more important things' says CEO Legere
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.