When You Quote The Inventor Of The Web Out Of Context, He Fights Back On The Web

from the good-for-him dept

Last Thursday night, I was particularly surprised to see a BBC interview with web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, where it made it sound like he was worried about all the “bad things” the web had allowed. I wrote up a post wondering when TimBL switched from technology optimist to technology curmudgeon, blaming technology rather than the way people use it. I held the post overnight, in part because it sounded so unlike Tim, and I wanted to see if there was more to the story. The next day, when it was announced that he was really just discussing a new program to study web use and how it effects people, it became pretty clear that the original quotes had been taken way out of context to turn it into a story about how Tim is worried about the “monster” he created. Of course, that didn’t stop plenty of others, including the Guardian from writing up articles suggesting that Tim feared the technology. I ended up ditching the original post I wrote up, figuring it wasn’t worth discussing, but the response to those articles actually is worth discussing.

Tim quickly responded on his own blog to point out that his comments were taken out of context and twisted around to make a good story, rather than an accurate one. So how do the publications respond? The author of the Guardian piece has put up a blog post basically admitting that he made a mistake — but that none of the comments were falsified and that he’ll wait for the paper’s ombudsman to rule on whether or not the article was fair. In many ways, this highlights (in unexpected ways) exactly TimBL’s point: the technology certainly can be used in questionable ways (whether on purpose or not), but the great thing is that the technology is equally available as a way to respond. He probably just didn’t expect that it would happen concerning his own story trying to make that point.

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Comments on “When You Quote The Inventor Of The Web Out Of Context, He Fights Back On The Web”

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SomeRandomGuyAgain says:

Oy Vey

PEOPLE! I hate you all! except for common sense and b. YOU ARE ALL FREAKING RETARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Keep on topic.

As for the topic, I don’t have much to say. I hate the way people and the media always try to twist around what you say to turn it against you. And it is always taken out of context. Just once, ONCE, I want one of these dumbasses to give the WHOLE story so that WE don’t have to search for it. ok, enough of the rant.

Kyros (profile) says:

w00t!! 14th post!!! oh – 4chan roxx

On Topic: The media has had a long standing of taking things out of context – Our media is no longer informative but is to be considered entertainment. I rarely ever take anything of value when watching the news. This is simply another example of such. As far as Tim – I feel bad for the guy, the News basically attacked him to get better ratings.

mousepaw says:


I’m surprised. (Sorry)

Surely you knew that the web’s beginning was a bunch of tech guys getting together and sharing information using a series of numbers and codes to communicate ideas? They were the original hackers. It must have been a thrill! (I remember when I communicated, for the first time, with the techies at our main frame in Chicago.) It certainly wasn’t cheap back then… all those long distance charges, the cost of the modem, the dial phones. Then somebody figured out that they could charge for connecting to the internet by the minute… How could you think he’d blame the technology? I think he was the guy who said “there are no more bugs in computers, just bugs using them.”

To Charles Griswold: I feel the pain!

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) says:

I thought....

…this article was about Al Gore. Regardless, the media uses quotes out of context to make things sound the way they would like. I could take this blog and misquote saying that Tim aspires to be the next Dr. Frankenstein. “Tim is worried about the “monster” he created” Just don’t assume any news source reports accurately a situation. I like to check a few sources on the same story. Unless one story is made from the other misinformed source (and it does happen!) Tim is right to publicly announce that the Guardian is full of it. Hopefully people will see that they lack credibility.

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