Saturday, November 04, 2006

TBL on why blogs are wonderful and the net is NOT all junk and danger

A day ago I read a very odd BBC article about a new initiative that Tim Berners-Lee was leading. The article claimed TBL (father of the web) was warning of the disastrous and anti-democratic perils of the unrestricted web.

Huh?! I didn't bother noting the article because it didn't fit with anything I knew about TBL. Either the great man had become demented or the journalist was cracked (hint, it was the latter).

Happily, TBL replied. Since he has a blog he can point out that both the Guardian and the BBC were utterly wrongheaded. TBL doesn't buy the garbage about 'blogs are junk' because, oddly enough, he understands how links work.

It works because reputable writers make links to things they consider reputable sources. So readers, when they find something distasteful or unreliable, don't just hit the back button once, they hit it twice. They remember not to follow links again through the page which took them there. One's chosen starting page, and a nurtured set of bookmarks, are the entrance points, then, to a selected subweb of information which one is generally inclined to trust and find valuable.

A great example of course is the blogging world. Blogs provide a gently evolving network of pointers of interest. As do FOAF files. I've always thought that FOAF could be extended to provide a trust infrastructure for (e.g.) spam filtering and OpenID-style single sign-on and its good to see things happening in that space.

TBL loves blogs. He is not demented. The Guardian and the BBC need a time-out.

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