"With the web you can do almost anything you could possibly imagine," said Tim Berners-Lee, chief architect of the World Wide Web, when he opened this year's BCS Lovelace Lecture.
The lecture, which took place at London's Congress Centre last month, examined the ideas behind the origins of the internet and the web and considered how things might develop in the future.
The number of web pages now exceeds the world's population, and continues to grow exponentially. Berners-Lee said more should be done to monitor this growth and to nurture developments that improve the user's experience.
"The twin magics for the creation of the web have been collaboration and creativity and these need to continue," he said.
Berners-Lee's goal when he created the web was simply to help people communicate and transfer information efficiently. He wanted to find a means to move documents between computers regardless of operating systems or hardware.
The internet was designed to be independent of application, whether a user sends an e-mail, uses file transfer, or voice. Likewise, the web was designed to be independent of application, whether a user browses or participates.
From its foundation to its ceiling technologies, the web had to be comprised of royalty-free standards with a clean interface, which makes no assumptions and is flexible for all user needs, said Berners-Lee.
"Society consists of many different types of community at different levels. A universal web must reflect this and include communities on many different levels, including those relating to work and home.
"The web is structured on many levels and is perhaps best described as a fractal tangle," he said.
Berners-Lee also considered the new challenges to web science.
"The user interface is a significant challenge since this should have a generality enabling users to browse any data anywhere. They should also be able to dynamically pick up from ontologies, allow independent control and 'blow spreadsheet tools away' with their user-friendliness," he said. Other challenges include data policies, resilience and new devices.
Berners-Lee concluded, "By increasing the level of collaboration and creativity improvements can be made to the web. A new geography of free connectivity with more intuitive interfaces and new forms of democracy can be created.
"Ultimately, advances are most regularly achieved through the connection of people's half-formed ideas, whether they are scientific, political or cultural."
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