Sir Tim Berners-Lee did not invent the
internet. That was sort of Vint Cert and Bob Kahn and kind of Xerox PARC.
Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. It’s often
abbreviated “www.” More than anyone, he is responsible for making the net
navigable and maintaining its orderly growth. Jessica Yu profiles the internet
pioneer and solicits his take on the state of the web in the thirty-five minute documentary ForEveryone.net, which screened for
invited guests and media during festival season in Park City.
Berners-Lee OM KBE FRS, etc is not a
household name, but that is largely by design. He will do the periodic Ted
Talk, but he is not a media attention seeker. As the child of computer
scientists, it was apparently in his genes. Fortunately, he was at CERN, Europe’s
largest internet juncture, just when people were starting to think about
networking and hypertext in conjunction with each other. Berners-Lee really got
it and envisioned the resulting user-friendly architecture.
Frankly, it is strange nobody has given
Berners-Lee the documentary treatment sooner, because his enthusiasm is quite appealing
on screen. His tribute during the London Olympics’ opening ceremony should have
also intrigued potential viewers. He was there, driving some pretty critical
scientific and sociological history. Yu could probably easily expand ForEveryone.net into a consistently
engaging feature length documentary on the early development and adoption of
the World Wide Web.
That is all well and good, but Yu allows
Berners-Lee to give a lengthy pitch for so-called Net Neutrality, probably the most
deliberately misrepresented and demagogued issue of the last ten years. Thanks
to Net Neutrality, bit torrent pirates continue to hog ISP bandwidth, get the
same speeds, and pay the same fees as the little old ladies who only use the
web to post cat pictures on Facebook. Treating these two groups any differently
is currently illegal.
as it is, there are still a lot of interesting fascinating details in Yu’s
film. Innovation should be exciting and she captures that spirit well. There is
a slightly awkward irony of a film advocating universal web access holding a
private screening, but maybe it will be free on the internet someday (surely on
a bit torrent site, thanks to Net Neutrality). Recommended for fans of science documentaries
like Particle Fever, ForEveryone.net is sure to have a
lengthy festival life ahead of it.
Labels: Documentary, Jessica Yu, Sir Tim Berners-Lee