Tim Berners-Lee and Democracy for Difference Cases

With Tim Berners-Lee at the BCS Lovelace Lecture, March 2007

I was lucky enough to meet Tim Berners-Lee, last week, at the BCS Lovelace lecture in London. The lecture, predictably enough, was packed out but, curiously, only about thirty people bothered to stay for the reception afterwards. Maybe, they thought Tim wouldn't stay but he did and I got to talk to him for over half an hour.

In his lecture, he spoke about his recurring theme - the Semantic Web - as well as some newer ideas like Web Science and what he called "The Challenge of Inter-creativity", when he mentioned something that struck a chord with me: "New forms of democracy for difference cases".

Having worked around parliaments for twenty years, I have had a long interest in the democratic process and more recently how technology, both Web and mobile, could be brought to bear on it, I wanted to know more. I asked him about this in the question session at the end of the lecture and again when we met at the reception when I told him about my involvement with The Democratic Society.

He explained how, in the early days of the Web, he had tried to implement the idea of having combined voting, rating and comments on proposals, so that a comment on a proposal could be marked as being "for", "against" or "don't know - I need to know more" with both the proposal and the comments being rated and the proposal being voted on. This wasn't really possible when he tried due to the technical limitations of Web forms handling at the time but, now with the advent of Web 2.0, it becomes not only possible but very attractive.

Watch this space, as they say, or, more accurately, watch this space: The Democratic Society.