In his keynote address during the closing session of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT's) Laboratory of Computer Science (LCS) 35th anniversary gathering, Tim Berners-Lee, LCS research scientist and director of the World Wide Web Consortium, emphasised the need for better data access via the Web and the extension of easier content creation and online interaction to a wider segment of users.
Creator of the WWW blueprint and first Web browser and server, Berners-Lee is frequently called upon to assess the state of the Web and predict its future.
Striking familiar themes, he summarised the Web's history, outlined key upcoming developments, and spelled out his vision of the Web's potential.
In the face of the Web's explosive growth, issues of accessibility, internationalisation, security, privacy, stability, and large-scale collaboration are critical to the realization of the medium's promise, according to Berners-Lee.
He referred to ongoing work in defining Extensible Markup Language (XML) data structures, digital signatures and accessibility guidelines, and other areas.
Warning against the replication of other, passive media models on the Internet, he pointed to the technology's inherent capacity for fostering communities.
Citing the Web's cross-platform reach as one of its chief benefits, he nonetheless cautioned that the industry is in danger of back-sliding into creating proprietary barriers to widespread data exchange.
"We could go back down that route very easily," Berners-Lee said.
Despite the myriad technical and business issues consuming those driving the evolution of the Web, Berners-Lee stressed its societal impact.
"At the end of the day, if you're not doing something for ... people, you're not doing something useful at all," Berners-Lee said.
Also Wednesday, Berners-Lee was named the first holder of a newly endowed MIT chair. The chair, underwritten by a $2 million gift from a group including founders of networking vendor, 3Com is the first in MIT's history open to nonfaculty, according to company co-founder, MIT alumnus, and InfoWorld columnist Bob Metcalfe.