The founder of the World Wide Web wants the world to get together to figure what forces are, and should be, shaping the future of that online platform.
To that end, the Knight Foundation gave $5 million to help give birth to another foundation committed to creating an open Web available to all and with enough bandwidth to handle that charter of openness and ubiquity.
The World Wide Web Foundation is the brainchild of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the acknowledged inventor of the World Wide Web, who announced the new foundation and the Knight grant at a dinner at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Sunday night.
Knight is planting the seed for the foundation with its grant, but Berners-Lee is soliciting founding donors and said the foundation is still in the planning stages. And sounding just like a futurist, he added, “If the foundation achieves all the things I can imagine now, we will have failed.”
The goal of the foundation, according to Berners-Lee, is to
· 1) Advance "One Web" that is free and open;
· 2) Expand the Web's capability and robustness; and
· 3) Extend the Web's benefits to all people on the planet.
That would combine the two key elements of the "network-neutrality" debate, which has often polarized opposing forces: ensuring that the network infrastructure can handle the increased bandwidth of more online users and more bandwidth-hungry applications like video and ensuring that network management necessary to achieve that does not not unfairly impede that traffic for some or morph into a competitive tool to disadvantage rivals or a way to censor political speech.
Berners-Lee said the goal is to bring together "business leaders, technology innovators academia, government" and others -- essentially all of the stakeholders on both sides of the debate over network management/neutrality -- to work together to think broadly about a Web future that "supports democracy, informs the electorate and promotes accountable debate."