Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Defenders of the Web

Tim Berners Lee goes postal on spam "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"."
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