Tim Berners-Lee speaks at Sydney Town Hall, Feb 5th 2013



The man knighted by the Queen and recognised as the inventor of the World Wide Web visited Sydney Town Hall this evening to speak and debate issues relating to how the web has revolutionised the everyday life of citizens today.

Tim BL only had 20 jam packed minutes to go over his invention, which he did so with amusing anecdotes. After coming up with the concept, he was told to write a memo about it, which he did later on and received the feedback that his idea was “vague, but exciting”.

The panel with Tim BL, led by Adam Spencer, discussed a wide range of topics including open source programming (the praise and encouragement for female programmers was widely felt), Government data, connectivity and censorship.

After researching Internet Collaborations and Organisations over the summer, my key takeaways included the use of the web to share and collaborate knowledge in order to harness innovation and creativity – not only in the I.T sector, but for all sectors that thrive off transparency. We are beginning to see more and more social and tech entrepreneurs joining communities and merging, and doing so willingly. Technological determinism was addressed indirectly – is it the devices that make us social, or is it the social that creates these devices?

Moving on, it was acknowledged that we are in a consumer economy that does not require the permission to create and produce. Our culture has changed and the way we think and do has become more flexible.

We need to be control of our own data, and not let it be owned and controlled by the Government with excuses about tracking for cyber terrorism. Cyber terrorists know how to bypass internet security so that they aren’t in fact traced. The only people traced will be the normal citizen, researching the web looking for information – some of which may be sensitive – researching an intimate disease, researching their sexuality, researching intimate issues in their own private time. That research then turns into a data profile that can be used for fraud or blackmail. The question passed to the audience was, do you really want someone to be in charge of controlling your data? Do you trust your government? Who’s to say that the data will be kept safe? And with the infrastructure in general, do we really want to be giving the master switch of the Internet over to our Governments?

Data and what we do with data was the topic du jour. Everything action we commit to on the web is data – from the friendships we create, the tags we attach and the things that we like. There’s a load of data being published everyday – is it boring? Not always to everyone, because the data is always relevant to somebody. To you perhaps.

Convergence came up a few times, but is a topic most will be familiar with by now.

Ending the night was a series of 1 minute Q&A. When asked by an eight year old on what will supersede the web, TimBL humbly replied, that is up to you.

And it is.

Paula Lay is Sydney born and bred photographer and digital native. As an Arts/Communications graduate, her work has been featured on WordPress.Com and, and she regularly provides her images to be used for promotion while licensed under Creative Commons. Her side projects include miniature photography and starting up Pup and Panda on Etsy. Why she wrote this in third person is still unknown. Her motto? Play, Create, Share.

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  1. Katrina /

    Hi Paula

    This is a fantastic wrap of the TBL talk… I do hope that UTS makes these talks available for everyone to see, either by YouTube or on TED…. I’d love to see the whole talk… I’m sure it was full of very usefully information that really should be known as general knowledge.


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