Inventor of the world wide web (WWW), Tim Berners-Lee highlighted the importance of standards at a recent event held in Sophia Antipolis, France. The ITU sent a representative of its telecommunication standardization bureau (TSB), Paolo Rosa.
Berners-Lee speaking at the tenth anniversary in Europe of the world wide web consortium (W3C) said that standards allow different layers such as hardware, operating systems, browsers, connectivity and search services to evolve independently and therefore faster and better.
As part of its desire for the more efficient production of international ICT standards and to avoid duplication of work, ITU-T is keen to foster closer relations with W3C, as well as other standards making organizations.
Berners-Lee said that businesses often faced two difficult choices: either, pursue standard, commit resources, transition products, work with competitors and then encourage it to all take-off; or continue working in isolation and keep proprietary control of customers. Berners-Lee said that he believes that participation in standards making carries less risk than not doing so. In response to a question by Rosa, of ITU he said that being part of the standards making process enables companies to better respond to market needs.
Measuring the cost of not using standards is, he said, difficult. How, for instance, can you measure the cost of the US still using feet and pounds or, of power sockets being different all over Europe? He used the example of the Gopher protocol versus WWW, backed-up by figures, to illustrate how a standardized solution can achieve more success. In the early nineties Gopher and WWW were alternative ways of accessing the Internet. However following the decision of the University of Minnesota to charge a license fee for the use of Gopher, its use stagnated while WWW, which remained free, became the success that we see today.
W3C10 Europe, gave attendees the opportunity to reflect on the progress of the web, its role as a unifying force in Europe, and the policies that shape the role of the web in the daily lives of Europeans.
Tim Berners-Lee’s presentation is here, use arrow in top right-hand corner for navigation).
Among other speakers were Berners-Lee’s CERN colleague Robert Cailliau, Keith Jaffrey who spoke about Grids and the worldwide Web. Also security, privacy and Internet rights were addressed by e-Government expert, Peter Brown (now working for the Austrian government) and Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, Chair of the Internet Rights Forum.