Tim Berners-Lee: Each Social Networking Website Is A Silo, Walled Off From Others

Posted Nov 19, 2010

Tim Berners-Lee (TimBL) is a British engineer and computer scientist that has been credited with inventing the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee said that the world wide web went live on a physical desktop in Geneva, Switzerland in December 1990. The simple concept of the Web is that any person could share information with anyone else and anywhere.

Below is an excerpt from Berner’s Lee’s article in Scientific American:

Several threats to the Web?s universality have arisen recently. Cable television companies that sell Internet connectivity are considering whether to limit their Internet users to downloading only the company?s mix of entertainment. Social-networking sites present a different kind of problem. Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster and others typically provide value by capturing information as you enter it: your birthday, your e-mail address, your likes, and links indicating who is friends with whom and who is in which photograph. The sites assemble these bits of data into brilliant databases and reuse the information to provide value-added service?but only within their sites. Once you enter your data into one of these services, you cannot easily use them on another site. Each site is a silo, walled off from the others. Yes, your site?s pages are on the Web, but your data are not. You can access a Web page about a list of people you have created in one site, but you cannot send that list, or items from it, to another site.

To a certain extent, I agree with Berners-Lee. I keep all my videos on YouTube, all my photos and funny status messages on Facebook, my personal thoughts on Tumblr, and communication with people I don’t know on Twitter. It is almost like I have a different life on each social media service.

Now is an exciting time. Web developers, companies, governments and citizens should work together openly and cooperatively, as we have done thus far, to preserve the Web?s fundamental principles, as well as those of the Internet, ensuring that the technological protocols and social conventions we set up respect basic human values. The goal of the Web is to serve humanity. We build it now so that those who come to it later will be able to create things that we cannot ourselves imagine.

Read more about what Berners-Lee had to say here: [Scientific American]