World-Wide Wooliness

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the highly-regarded hypertext guru who invented the web, is up to his old tricks again, sowing the seeds of paranoia by confusing service discrimination with content discrimination. He delivered some remarks before a web conference in Scotland that would have made any pandering politician proud:

Sir Tim said this was “not the internet model”. The “right” model, as exists at the moment, was that any content provider could pay for a connection to the internet and could then put any content on to the web with no discrimination.

Speaking to reporters in Edinburgh at the WWW2006 conference, he argued this was where the great benefit of the internet lay.

“You get this tremendous serendipity where I can search the internet and come across a site that I did not set out to look for,” he said.

A two-tier system would mean that people would only have full access to those portions of the internet that they paid for and that some companies would be given priority over others.

Berners-Lee knows better than this. He wrote on this own little blog that he’s not opposed to service-level discrimination on the Internet:

As I said above, I am happy that “We may pay for a higher or a lower quality of service. We may pay for a service which has the characteristics of being good for video, or quality audio.”

… but these latest remarks confuse the necessary engineering to make voice over the Internet practical on a large scale with content discrimination. His largest deception was to frame these new services in terms of the Web, when they’re really quite separate. The man’s either an idiot or a fraud.