Bear with me on this one. There is a point to this.
Last week I read an interesting article on a pioneer who has shaped the digital world we know today: Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
Naturally, this got me thinking. Amongst other things, what I took from the article was where the likes of Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Larry Page (Google), Pierre Omidyar (eBay), Jack Ma (Alibaba) and Marc Randolph/Reed Hastings (NetFlix) would be without the work of people before them.
When you think about the amount of billions the list of gentlemen above are worth the mind boggles. Yet without the vision of Sir Tim Berners-Lee (TBL), who by the way puts his invention down to random chance claiming that he “happened to be in the right place at the right time” when the World Wide Web was created, where would the above list of billionaires be today? Don’t get me wrong TBL hasn’t done badly for himself, so don’t feel sorry for him, but for someone of his stature and intelligence we’d naturally assume this to be a lot more.
Bill Gates is worth c. $84 billion, and Steve Jobs left his family a healthy sum of about $20 billion when he passed away. So doesn’t $50 million seem a little lackluster? Is he the ‘unsung hero of the information age’? Perhaps. Does this bother him? Probably not.
When TBL featured in the London 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, he received almighty cheers and support. But it was probably the first time most us had ever seen the face of the man behind the internet. The World Wide Web is still to this day, one of the most revolutionary discoveries ever known to mankind.
To TBL this was his passion; he wasn’t a money motivated man by all accounts. It’s all very well and good having a hobby; but how do we turn an interest into a professional occupation? For the record, I’d love to be a professional golfer, but making that step from a ‘good amateur’ to ‘professional’ is something else, never mind competing on TV for millions each week. TBL struggled, dedicated his time and fought his way to the top, to ultimately change the world as we know it.
Look, I’ll get to the point. When I think about the work I do, recruiting into the digital creative market, and specifically into the UI / UX / CX / Product design side of things - ignore the rich list at the top of this blog - but everyone I work with wouldn’t be where they are today without the tireless work of some unsung heroes before them.
TBL has an inbuilt DNA to do something remarkable, his ROOTS if you will, granted his parents both worked on the first commercially built computer, so he had a decent start to all things technology. He worked tirelessly to come up with his SEED of an idea, from London, via Oxford University, my hometown of Bournemouth, Dorset, then finally to Switzerland. Then on the 9th August 1991, he entered the URL www.info.cern.ch - not as catchy as I was hoping - and his big fat OAK was born…and by ‘big fat oak’ I mean the World Wide Web.
"He wove the World Wide Web and created a mass medium for the 21st century. The World Wide Web is Berners-Lee's alone. He designed it. He loosed it on the world. And he more than anyone else has fought to keep it open, non-proprietary and free."
— Tim Berners-Lee's entry in Time Magazine's list of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century, March 1999.
When you think about how much we rely on and interact with our phones, laptops, tablets etc these days and people lose their minds when connectivity drops for even the shortest periods of time. It’s hard to remember a time, speaking as a 27-year old millennial, that we weren’t connected - but (and not that you’ll read this Tim) I wanted to say thanks for the opportunity you’ve given us all.
Now, I don’t know if you play golf Tim, however, if you do you’d definitely be included in my dream four-ball, as long as you can put up with Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus for company? You seem like a thoroughly top bloke…I’ll buy the drinks too, just to say thanks!
This is the man himself, just in case you didn’t know:
So, how about that game?