Tim Berners-Lee and Peter Thiel: Differing Views on the Future of the Internet

The very first Web page ever, was posted on the world’s first Web server at around Christmas, 1990 by the Web’s creator, Tim Berners-Lee.

Tim Berners-Lee

He also created the world’s first Web browser (designed to run on the NeXTStep operating system). By 1993 he had already created an interface not that much different than what we expect to see today. But today, Tim Berners-Lee is concerned about the possible death of the Internet as we know it. David Cooper reports that there are three major threats outlined in Berners-Lee’s essay which appeared in a recent issue of Scientific American entitled, Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality.

  1. The commercial, self-contained “walled gardens” created by social media sites like Facebook, iTunes and their mobile-phone apps that are not provided in an “open marketplace.”
  2. The growing threats to a Net-neutral open environment: “Wireless Internet providers are being tempted to slow traffic to sites with which they have not made deals,” and “cable television companies that sell Internet connectivity are considering whether to limit their Internet users to downloading only the company’s mix of entertainment.”
  3. Cyberterrorism as defined by governments and the respective controls that each may put into place to guard against it. “Governments – totalitarian and democratic alike – are monitoring people’s online habits, endangering important human rights.”

“The Web evolved into a powerful, ubiquitous tool because it was built on egalitarian principles,” explains Berners-Lee. “…because thousands of individuals, universities and companies have worked, both independently and together as part of the World Wide Web Consortium, to expand its capabilities based on those principles. If we, the Web’s users, allow these and other trends to proceed unchecked, the Web could be broken into fragmented islands. We could lose the freedom to connect with whichever Web sites we want.”

The BBC describes Peter Thiel as an “Internet entrepreneur and a libertarian who wants to encourage free thinking.” Co-founder of PayPal and a primary investor in Facebook, he has obviously done well in building some of the very walled gardens that Berners-Lee warns against. Here, he tells reporter BBC reporter Mike Williams about how his venture capital fund and philanthropy are aimed at encouraging just the kind of technological innovation that the West needs in order to survive. Listen to Peter Theil on the BBC and please let me know in the comments what you think…

Harbor Fish Market & Grille to Host Next Social Media Breakfast Door County #SMBDC Wed, Dec 15

Social networking means “More honey in Door County, when DCBs create a hive mind.”

René Dubos

“In most human affairs, the idea is to think globally and act locally,” wrote Pulitzer Prize winning French humanist René Dubos in 1972. For more than four decades I have been following that directive in northeastern Wisconsin starting with the peninsula’s first Nordic Ski center in 1971 when that sport was just emerging.

We started a newspaper guide to ski trails in Door County back then, for a sport that no one but Al Johnson and I even knew existed. But, we printed 5,000 copies and delivered them to ski shops all over Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois… and the rest is history.

It’s much faster and easier to get news and information distributed now, but the tools have changed. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are gaining an exponentially increasing number of users who spend more time online at home, in the office and on the road – using handheld devices for communication and navigation. These ever-changing Web tools are the focus of Kastner’s Social Media Breakfast Door County (SMBDC) events taking place at different venues on the 3rd Wednesday of each month.

On Wednesday, December 15 from 9 – 10:30 am, the Harbor Fish Market & Grille will host the latest SMBDC meeting at their Baileys Harbor location, with a free buffet breakfast for participants. The event will lead-off with an exploration of “Google’s View of the World,” beginning with why a Gmail business account is key to unlocking a wealth of free marketing resources. There will be a live online workshop demonstration of how to claim your free listing in “Google Places,” enhancing your map listing with photographs and videos. Further discussion will focus on the future of Web design when seen from a Smartphone’s perspective. The meetings are open-ended so a question and answer session is always included.

In November, more than 15 leaders from local not-for-profits met for an SMBDC gathering at Glas Coffeehouse to get an overview of how social media works in their organizations. It was agreed that a step-by-step approach would greatly benefit everyone starting to take up these new methods of marketing online. With that in mind, we will center the following meetings around each of the chapters of his free book on social media, “6 Steps to Becoming a Social Business.” The chapters include: Google, WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn and the book is available as a downloadable PDF.

The SMBDC meetings are free and open to the public, but an RSVP is requested out of consideration for the host and staff at the Harbor Fish Market & Grille. You can email stephen.kastner@smbdc.com or call 920.256.9449 with questions or to make a reservation.