Sir Tim Berners-Lee was in Sydney last night on his “TBL Down Under” tour so I decided to tag along and see what he had to say. Whilst you may not of heard of him, he’s kind of a big deal. In 1989 he invented the World Wide Web. Yep, the one you’re using right now – smart dude.
Tickets were available for sometime and the event quickly sold out. I was actually quite surprised at the amount of people that decided to go to Sydney’s Town Hall to see him. After getting there a little late I didn’t really get the best seat (apologies for the terrible cover image of this post) but was close enough to get a decent view. The crowd was pretty keen for him to come out as well and the cheers that he received when stepping out on stage I’d liken to that of famous sports star. Geek nirvana!
Tim had ~20minutes on stage to talk about his “invention” which was deeply engaging and entertaining – the man definitely has a sense of humour! The story of how the concept become a reality (as he tells it) is that he had this idea of a series of inter-connected computers that would help to share information everywhere and was told to write as descriptive as possible a “memo” on this “world wide web” thing. He handed his idea in only to be told that it was “vague, but exciting” – ha!
Besides talking about his obvious success with the WWW, he also talked about how everyone in the modern age should learn to code as the world needs more innovation. Another topic he touched on was how the world is changing in regards to censorship, privacy and the Government’s wanting to get involved and control the internet for its residents. He disagreed with the potential for governments to be able to have access to everyone’s data as he believes that data belongs to the people. People deserve privacy and the right to research things like diseases and sexuality without having to be judged or had that information at risk of being released – who’s to say that governments would have accurate measures of protecting all this data should they start to collect it?
The night ended with a panel discussion (as shown above) between various high-profile internet identities such as the former MD of IBM, the current Director of Engineering at Google NZ & AU + many more (full list here). There was also a pretty cool light show at the end when everyone started to leave which was unexpected but awesome to watch (I have a video a might upload when I have the chance).
Whilst I found the event enjoyable, I also found it quite short and would of loved to see Tim speak more. If you ever get the chance to see him speak or to say hi – go for it! You’ll learn lots and have a great time regardless of the capacity of your interactions with Tim.