One of the few public figures I really admire is Tim Berners-Lee, the person who actually invented the concept of the World Wide Web, in addition to developing much of the foundational technology.
He’s also a leader in the fight to maintain open standards for the protocols that tie the system together.
Berners-Lee was in DC this pass week to explain to the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet just why the web has been so successful.
He also let them know that the best way to keep building on that success in the future was to keep it simple.
As Congress considers regulations to crack down on such ills as copyright violations, Berners-Lee encourages them to first make it easy for people who want to do the right thing to be able to do so.
Passing laws, filing lawsuits, and tying up the court system is one way to deal with copyright issues, for instance, and such tools have their place. But the first item of business for lawmakers and standards-makers is to make it simple for people to do the right thing. Berners-Lee gave the example of better metadata for media files, arguing that such technology ought to make it simple to discover the licensing terms for any piece of media just by looking at the file.
He also reminded the members that they are not working in isolation. Similar committees in countries around the world are also working on laws to regulate the internet.
With any luck they were actually listening when Berners-Lee called for simplicity of regulation and open standards, allowing anyone, anywhere to build on the foundation.