Below, I share some insights I gathered from Sir Tim's short speech. This is particularly important as the Internet has reached it's 40th milestone and the world wide web is approaching its 20th year.
The need for a multi-disciplinary study of the web
The evolution of the web over the years has resulted in a very complex system that is an interesting subject for academic study. Closely related to this are developments towards the realisation of a “semantic web.” In Sir Tim's view, a collaborative and multi-disciplinary web science, will enhance the full understanding of the technologies driving the web as well as how people use it. The point is that if whole fields are dedicated to studying systems such as the brain, why not do the same for the web?
The barriers must be brought down
The web, by its very nature, has the capacity to make information freely accessible to everyone. Sadly, only about 20-25% of the word's population can be said to be on-line. The key challenge facing everyone is to get Internet connectivity to the doorsteps of the remaining 75-80% of the global population. Considering the enormous benefits that access to information through the web offers every sector of the economy, it is worthwhile to take bold steps to bridge the digital divide.
Why the web was made free
The web was made free to ensure that there is only one dominant platform through which information is exchanged. Sir Tim envisaged the implication of commercialising the world wide web, that is other networks would have been invented, and this may affect the free-flow of information. So, imagine, if the WWW was commercialised, we may have other networks such as MMM (multi-media mash), QQQ and HHH.
The web is a two-edged sword
Like any device, technology or piece of knowledge placed into the hands of man, the web has the potential to be used for good or for bad. And although, overwhelmingly, the WWW has served as a tool for technological, social, political and economic improvement, it has also been employed as a tool for criminal activities. The sad cases of cybercrime or “sakawa” and terrorism are but few examples of how the WWW has been misused.
At the gathering were various stakeholders in the Ghanaian technological sector including scientists, academics, business people, politicians and students. Some of the notable faces at the event were Ms. Dorothy Gordon, Director of AITI-KACE, Dr. Nii Narku Quaynor, the man credited for “bringing” the Internet to Ghana, Prof. Marian Ewurama Addy, Vice-Chancellor of Anglican University of Technology and Ghana's deputy minister of communication, Mr Gideon Quarcoo. There were also representatives of various groups such as ISOG, ghNOG, ghNIC, GISPA and GHARNET.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Dr. Nii Narku-Quaynor interacting with young enthusiastic Ghanaian technologists after the programme.