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Tim Berners-Lee awarded the British Order of Merit 151

MarsBar writes "The BBC is reporting that Sir Tim Berners-Lee has been awarded The Order of Merit, a royal award granted directly by the Queen. Previous recipients have included Florence Nightingale, Sir Winston Churchill, Bertrand Russell, Graham Greene, Sir Edward Elgar, Mother Teresa and Margaret Thatcher."
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Tim Berners-Lee awarded the British Order of Merit

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  • by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:21PM (#19515063) Homepage
    I discussed this with my kids just now, and they agree 100% with the award. After all, this is the man who made barbie.com [barbie.com] possible, as well as trollz.com [trollz.com], clubpenguin [clubpenguin.com], and neopets [neopets.com].
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:42PM (#19515195)
      He also made this [goatse.ch] possible. Thanks, Tim Berners-Lee...
      • by GFree ( 853379 )
        This would be the first time I've ever see an apparent goatse link rate funny on Slashdot.

        Then again, it might not even be goatse, but I'm still too-damn scared to click. :)
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Faylone ( 880739 )
          Your fear is justified. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to drive nails into my eyes.
          • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward
            You'll need to keep your eyes open in order to nail them, so follow the link to see how.
        • by CalSolt ( 999365 )
          Actually, posts containing goatse seem to be getting modded +5 something a lot these days.
          • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

            Actually, posts containing goatse seem to be getting modded +5 something a lot these days.

            Do you suppose that a goatse.cx reference getting modded 5, Troll would qualify as a sign of the apocalypse?

        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          It's safe. It's the really cute and funny kitty cat picture that occasionally shows up on goatse-looking URLs.

        • by Kastar ( 851640 )
          That may be because it's a goatse link with "Re:discussed it with my kids" as the title.
    • I applaud the man. He's a true contributor. He helped make a significant change to the world.

      If he had patented his idea we'd be in a world of trouble or it would have been stolen and patented by Microsoft.
    • Although it is possible, and certainly was with the Automobile and the Airplane, someone else might have come up with the idea sooner or later. Who would have known, that no matter how lofty the original purposes and goals were, the internet would evolve into a place where we could all find spirit-uplifting images like this one? [photoamp.com]

      And on those days when you just can't get some odd software you are working on to actually work as intended, you can turn to another hand-picked image like this one also [imageshack.us], to give y

  • Good for him... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WIAKywbfatw ( 307557 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:36PM (#19515155) Journal
    Simply put, Sir Tim Berners-Lee is the Johannes Gutenberg of the Internet.

    His simple invention, and his polite, modest manner should make him the IT icon of our time. I wonder, though, how many people could even tell you what he's done or recognise him by his picture?

    Good for him. He deserves all the recognition that he can get.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WIAKywbfatw ( 307557 )
      And, yes, before someone decides to educate me about (D)ARPANET, etc, I do know that there's more to the Internet than the world wide web.

      My point was that what Gutenberg did to the printed word (made it faster, easier and thus more accessible to all), Berners-Lee did to the online word (put together a system that made it simple to use and thus acheived the same feat).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rs79 ( 71822 )
        I don't get as excited about Sir Tim as perhaps maybe I should. It was Einer Stefferud who invented MIME which is really at the heart of http, and Brian Reid whose PhD thesis, SCRIBE, begat SGML which begat HTML. Sir Tim just put the bits together which seems to be to be another one of those inevitabilities.

        Stef also invented and ran the first mailing list and Brian is also responsible for the firewall, Alta Vista and the laserwriter among many others.

        • Re:Good for him... (Score:5, Informative)

          by SenseiLeNoir ( 699164 ) on Friday June 15, 2007 @03:45AM (#19516555)
          Well the key is, Sir Tim did a LOT to make it accessible. Sure some of the ground work was already done, namely: TCP/IP, SGML, MIME, etc.

          What Sir Tim and his team did is:
          - Created HTML, which was arguably much simpler than SGML (yes it also allowed some mediocre "designers" to also design pages, but ultimately it lead to greater adoption)
          - Created the HTTP protocol, which by far and large was the greatest "enabler" of the technology, ie allow anonymous access to the information held in a ordered and secure manner.
          - Still actively in charge of W3C, and creating new standards, largely without breaking old ones.
          - Helped begat XML.
          - Did not try and patent it.

          So his contributions are large, and he is still actively participating. More importantly, he didnt try to patent it, but freed it.
        • Do you remember gopher, do you?

          Or even ftp using a browser.

          the http:/// [http] is not casual. it simply wasn't clear back then that you would not need to specify the protocol used in the future.

          The idea of linking documents in a computer network was revolutionary and in spite of all the flash and youtubes and what have you, that simple idea is the core of the Internet as we use it today.

          THe disparate bits and pieces to create it where all around the place but it took the ingenuity of Sir Tim to put all those bits
          • Continuing in the same vein, not only did HTML/HTTP/URLs link nodes across a network together, it also made the links apparent. There were all kinds of hypertext systems in the 1980s (Hypercard and Notes blew my mind, and OWL and Folio had great insights too) and there was SGML, but when Sir Tim came up with

            <a href="some protocol:a host/path/to/resource?some action">the link text<a>

            he changed everything. It's easy enough that several million people have Learned It In 21 Days and

            • by Viol8 ( 599362 )
              "Sir Tim's synthesis isn't earth-shattering, is deluded. He's by far the most significant person alive."

              Oh BS. Far more significant to the internet was email. If it hadn't been for that it would have been a complete non starter outside very specialised areas. As for TBL being the most significant person alive , I think you need to re-adjust your set. The Web isn't even close to being a daily relevance for the majority of the worlds population and even in the west a large proportion of the population couldn'
              • As for TBL being the most significant person alive , I think you need to re-adjust your set. The Web isn't even close to being a daily relevance for the majority of the worlds population and even in the west a large proportion of the population couldn't care less about it. Most significant person alive , jeez , get a grip... Try looking up the names of some doctors who are battling diseases , or engineers who are helping design more efficient engines or 101 other things. Not some guy who made it possible to
        • Excuse me? MIME might be an important part of HTTP but is its certainly not at the heart of it. You could run a complete , albeit simple webserver without ever sending any mime information in the headers simply by using plain HTML or text.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Order of Merit, Schmorder of Merit.
      They oughhta make him an URL.

      (Yeah, it's an old joke. But it's still funny.)

      • Re:Good for him... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pipingguy ( 566974 ) * on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:28PM (#19515451)
        When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.
        • Its a pity I don't have mod points, but if I did , I would definitely mod you insightful. Its very true that true success is often unnoticed, simply because it "works".
        • That quote reminds me of W.H.Auden's poem, "The Unknown Citizen":

          This Marble Monument Is Erected by the State) He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
          One against whom there was no official complaint,
          And all the reports on his conduct agree
          That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint,
          For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
          Except for the War till the day he retired
          He worked in a factory and never got fired,
          But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
          Yet he wasn
    • Re:Good for him... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:18PM (#19515391)
      "I wonder, though, how many people could even tell you what he's done or recognise him by his picture?"

      Being unknown to the filthy masses is the mark of the true Engineer.
      Sales and Marketing types are popular, Engineers get shit done.

      • Being unknown to the filthy masses is the mark of the true Engineer.
        Ah yes. Like these chaps, all unknown in their time: Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Gustave Eiffel, James Watt, George Stephenson, Thomas Telford...
    • I wouldn't say that, it is just TBLs approach to the wide-adoption/reuse of his invention. In a way, the web could be said to be an outgrowth of many existing technologies (Gopher and the original hypertext), but it was so successful because all he did was not to seek patent or copyright protection, just lobbying for interoperability.
    • Not to take anything away from Berners-Lee but Ted Nelson really deserves much of the credit for ideas that later became the web... for that matter so does John Brunner who was astonishingly accurate in his predictions of where computer technology was going... But I once heard Nelson use the phrase "psycho-acoustic tele-dildonics" 30 years before it became realized and for that alone he should be remembered... as well the creators of TRAC ought to be given some credit for what later became the web.
      • by simong ( 32944 )
        Ted should never be forgotten, especially now when we need something like transclusion [wikipedia.org] more than ever. However, Ted seems to have wandered back into academia, and progress on Xanadu [xanadu.com] and its associated technologies seems to have ground to a halt.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bkr1_2k ( 237627 )
      I think receiving the Order of Merit is most likely not just because of what he did but how he did it. It's a greater measure of the man that he did this for the good of others (with some personal gain for sure but not strictly for personal gain) and that's why he received an award that only 24 living people on the planet can hold.

      That puts him in very high regard and he should be. That said, I knew nothing about him until reading the article. Some people want fame and glory, others just want to do what
    • Simply put, Sir Tim Berners-Lee is the Johannes Gutenberg of the Internet.

      As it happens the first time I met Tim in 1992 it was a couple of weeks after visiting the Gutenberg museum.

      Gutenberg didn't invent movable type either, but he was the first person to put all the different pieces together to create a system.

    • And Margaret Thatcher is the Ronald Reagan of the United Kingdom.

      Couldn't they just name an airport after her, instead of sullying the award?
    • Simply put, Sir Tim Berners-Lee is the Johannes Gutenberg of the Internet.

      Although widely believed to be such a person, Tim can only be called "the inventor of WWW", if we really need to identify a name with each concept — he didn't think of anything, not immediately obvious to anyone skilled in the art [wikipedia.org]. Even then, we should be crediting the inventors of Hypertext [wikipedia.org], which existed long before Tim's work — if we can identify them, that is. The hypertext system, which Tim built at CERN [wikipedia.org], did not ev

  • So this is the same guy that made the first website on the NeXt Cube right? if so illl give him cred for helping to start the WWW (World Wide Web) he started HTML over TCP/IP before that all you had really was BBS it was a major leap to have content with images, I forget did he help make Mosaic?

    I can see him going down is history as a great role is starting the WWW
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:21PM (#19515409)
    Steve Ballmer was awarded the Iron Cross which he immediately threw across the room when he learned that Himmler was considering migrating the Reich's infrastructure to GNU/Linux.
  • by dwater ( 72834 ) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:29PM (#19515459)
    I don't see Saint Diana on the list. Strange that...
    • by Don_dumb ( 927108 ) on Friday June 15, 2007 @01:54AM (#19516065)
      There probably was a nomination but Prince Philip had it killed. Or at least that is what Mohammed Al-Fayed will claim.
    • That might have to do with the order being limited to 24 *living* members. Keep in mind St. Diana wasn't exactly on the Queen's top 10 list at the time she died.
      • by dwater ( 72834 )
        > That might have to do with the order being limited to 24 *living* members.

        Aha :) That'd do it...

        Of course, the other bit was the whole point in my post - if it could be said to be a point...pointless, more like.
  • by Flying pig ( 925874 ) on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:11AM (#19516153)
    T S Eliot also got the OM. For those who don't know (this is after all Slashdot) he was the New Englander who came to England, published some enormously influential poems (The Waste Land, Ash Wednesday, Four Quartets), wrote religious plays that actually turned a profit and still get performed, but above all was a hard working director of Faber & Faber, the literary publisher, and had a lot to do with making it a very successful literary publisher. And he was no religious fundamentalist: his religious writings are a million miles from the awful stuff in "Christian" bookshops and he was as likely to be writing about Hinduism or Buddhism as the Bible.

    The point being, that Berners-Lee is actually in much better company than the list given in the introduction might have suggested, and this award extends beyond the British gene pool to Americans like Eliot and Anglo-Americans like Churchill.

    • by GauteL ( 29207 )
      "The point being, that Berners-Lee is actually in much better company than the list given in the introduction might have suggested, and this award extends beyond the British gene pool to Americans like Eliot and Anglo-Americans like Churchill."

      I find it very amusing that you suggest that Churchill is somehow "beyond the British gene pool".

      Yes, Churchill had an american mother (of english descent), but he was born and raised in England (at Blenheim Palace no less) and his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was
    • by notjim ( 879031 )
      and while we are not forgetting people, what about Michael Atiyah, one of the two or three most important mathematician of the second half of the C20.
  • by silver ( 790 ) on Friday June 15, 2007 @03:02AM (#19516365)
    "Previous recipients have included Florence Nightingale, Sir Winston Churchill, Bertrand Russell, Graham Greene, Sir Edward Elgar, Mother Teresa and Margaret Thatcher."

    Damn, talk about the odd one out!
  • Such great people (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ivalladt ( 678861 )
    I can hardly say if I'd prefer to share a merit with Bertrand Russell or with sir Edward Elgar. Such great people!
  • A few pioneers like Jobs, Gates, and the YouTube guys have had second and third megahits. Im stil waiting for Tim's encore.

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