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Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee set to be knighted

You can call him Sir Tim soon.

The W3C Web site (http://www.w3.org/) usually features announcements of progress on XML technical specifications. But on New Year's Eve it celebrated with a press release headlined: ''W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee to be Knighted by Queen Elizabeth: Web inventor recognized for contributions to Internet development.''

The 2004 New Year's 'Honours' list released by Buckingham Palace announced that Berners-Lee -- inventor of the World Wide Web as well as founder and director of the W3C, which established the XML standard -- will become a Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire. With its commitment to putting all data in its proper order, the W3C explained that ''The rank of Knight Commander is the second most senior rank of the Order of the British Empire.''

While the 48-year-old Berners-Lee lives in the U.S., he is a citizen of the U.K., having been born in London and educated at Oxford University. But despite his upper-class education and impending knighthood, Berners-Lee used the announcement to advocate his democratic vision for the Web and to share the honor with all of its developers.

''This is an honor which applies to the whole Web development community, and to the inventors and developers of the Internet, whose work made the Web possible,'' Berners-Lee was quoted as saying in the announcement posted on the W3C site. ''I accept this as an endorsement of the spirit of the Web; of building it in a decentralized way; of making best efforts to keep it open and fair; and of ensuring its fundamental technologies are available to all for broad use and innovation, and without having to pay licensing fees.''

He went on to frame his knighthood in his vision of a Web that serves a worldwide community: ''By recognizing the Web in such a significant way, it also makes clear the responsibility its creators and users share. Information technology changes the world, and as a result, its practitioners cannot be disconnected from its technical and societal impacts. Rather, we share a responsibility to make this work for the common good, and to take into account the diverse populations it serves.''

If he is going to be a knight, it appears that Sir Tim will be a knight on a white horse.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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