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Twenty years ago today, Tim Berners-Lee prepared the CERN memo that built upon existing principles such as hypertext and  — eighteen months later — gave birth to the World Wide Web.

This Web of Documents has exceeded most people’s wildest expectations since reaching mainstream awareness on the back of graphical tools such as the Mosaic web browser, but the data behind so many decisions, analyses and visualisations largely remains inaccessible even today.

Berners-Lee spoke at TED last month, and I wrote about it at the time. ReadWriteWeb has an article today that includes the video of that presentation, which should also be in the TED archive later today.


In his talk, Berners-Lee describes the notion of Linked Data and attempts to illustrate the advances that could be made if we were all able to contribute and consume data in the same way that we do today with documents, images, and the like. He refers to the visually compelling work of Hans Rosling (with whom I recorded a podcast last year), and suggests that more data will enable more (and hopefully better) such analysis.

The principles behind this notion of Linked Data are simple in the extreme, and a growing community of enthusiasts is already at work to make ever-more data visible.

This is not some ‘new’ Web; not a replacement for the Web of today. Rather, it’s an evolution of today’s Web that makes today’s applications and interactions richer and more capable, whilst laying the foundations for services as yet unimagined.

Watch Tim’s talk, wish the Web a Happy Birthday, then get on and do your bit.

Raw Data, Now!

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