The University of Southampton

Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the Web take centre-stage at Olympics opening

Published: 31 July 2012

Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, had a special role at the spectacular opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on Friday 27 July.

In the part of the show that paid homage to the UK’s role in industrial innovation, Sir Tim was seen sitting at a computer screen, as the World Wide Web was acknowledged to have brought people together and provided unimagined opportunities for the world’s communications and creative industries.

Sir Tim’s live tweet: ‘This is for everyone’, appeared around the stadium as members of the audience displayed the words on pixelated light pads.

Sir Tim has held a Chair of Computer Science in ECS-Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, since 2004. He is 3COM Founders Professor of Engineering at Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Director of the World Wide Web Consortium and the World Wide Web Foundation. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) and holds the Order of Merit (OM).

It was in 1991, when he was working at CERN in Geneva that he unveiled the world's first Web page. Sir Tim made the Web publicly available - a novel way of sharing documents in a global information space, free of charge for anyone to use.

Computer Science at Southampton has been closely involved in the development of the Web from the earliest days of its existence, and the Web has formed a major part of its research efforts. ECS-Electronics and Computer Science has been a world-leader in Open Access - the global initiative to have all the world's research freely available on the Web - as the first academic institution in the world to adopt an Open Access mandate (2001). ECS also has been at the forefront of the development of the Semantic Web and more recently of the movement towards linked open data. The Web Science Trust was launched at Southampton in 2009, and from 2013 it will be possible to study Web Science at Southampton as an undergraduate degree.

Sir Tim and Professor Nigel Shadbolt, also at ECS, and Head of the Web and Internet Science research group, are co-directors of the UK's new Open Data Institute, which aims to ensure that the benefits and potential of open data are shared by the UK’s business community.

Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Dean of Physical and Applied Sciences at the University of Southampton, said: "We're thrilled to see Sir Tim take centre stage during the Opening Ceremony for the London Olympic Games. When he first demonstrated his new ideas in the early 1990s, few could predict that the World Wide Web would become the dominant and universal information system we all use today. At the time, only a few visionaries had it in mind that this new innovation would fundamentally change our lives so much.”

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