Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee stars in Olympics opening ceremony

Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee stars in Olympics opening ceremony

Summary: 'This is for everyone', Berners-Lee says in a tweet as London 2012 organisers honour the inventor of the web in the Olympic Games opening extravaganza


Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web, was greeted by cheers on Friday as the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games celebrated his work.

The event showed how digital communications — and so the web itself — have become part of everyday life via the story of Frankie and June, a pair of teenagers who hook up via social networking on their mobile phones. After the musical number, a house rose into the air to reveal Berners-Lee sitting in the Olympic Stadium, live-tweeting a message that reminds us that he donated his work on the web to the world:

As well as appearing on Twitter, the message flashed around the stadium, with the letters made up of 'pixel' paddles held by 70,500 members of the audience. It reached a television audience estimated at one billion.

Olympics organisers' decision to honour Berners-Lee placed the digital revolution he helped spark on a level with the Industrial Revolution in changing ordinary lives.

The opening ceremony took British creativity, eccentricity, daring and openness as its theme, and the technological shifts these have generated. It looked at how the invention of iron smelting led to factories, cities and prosperity, and how Berners-Lee's creation of the web was just as far-reaching.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee at London 2012 Olympics
Sir Tim Berners-Lee live-tweets during the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, with a NeXT Cube by his side

The British inventor now works with the UK government on open data, and previously on the data.gov.uk project to share public data. He was also at one time lined up to be a director at a new Institute for Web Science at Southampton University, but this plan was shelved by the coalition government when it got into power.

"The values and achievements of the Olympics will be amplified by the World Wide Web. It will be like millions of digital torches carrying the spirit of the Games to every corner of the world," Berners-Lee said, according to a report in Pocket-Lint.

Topics: Olympics 2012, Mobility

Karen Friar

About Karen Friar

Karen Friar is news editor for ZDNet in the UK, based in London. She started out in film journalism in San Francisco, before making the switch to tech coverage at ZDNet.com. Next came a move to CNET News.com, where she looked after west coast coverage of business technology, and finally a return to her homeland with ZDNet UK.

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  • NeXT Cube

    Sir Tim and a cameo appearance by the NeXT Cube, fantastic.
    • Thanks!

      Hadn't spotted the Cube (it was pretty late here in the UK). Will add it to the caption.
      Karen Friar
      • No problem...

        I see them everyday, and that MegaPixel Display (designed by Frog Design) is a dead giveaway. Incidentally the actual NeXT Cube used by Sir Tim is in London's Science Museum (this isn't it).
        • May the Cube be with you.

          No it's in the museum at CERN (or at least was when I was last there).
  • NeXT Cube

    Sir Tim and a cameo appearance from the NeXT Cube - fantastic!
  • Olympics opening ceremony

    I think the opening ceremony sucked. I don't call people King or Queen! I call them Bums, Liars and Thieves. Stop living off other peoples money!
    • imsimsj - Olympics opening ceremony

      Just one word

      • haydn_jane

        If you think bums should live off the hard earned money of others because of the blood line they are from then you would be Idiot. The reason you only had one word to say is because your are an Idiot.
        • Imsimj

          You sir or ma'am, are an idiot.

          You fail to realise how much of a great value for money the royal family are. So please, stop posting your unintellectual crap and go back to playing with your republican friends.
          • ConorJ

            That just shows how you are an idiot! You should know that the Republican and Democratic parties are both out for power and not to help people in any way. The parties have been in power for so long and people keep buying the crap they are selling just like the Family you call Royal Hahaha! There is nothing Royal about them other than they are a Royal pain in the backs and wallets of the working people.
          • Imsimsj

            My apologies, by 'republican' I meant it in an anti-monarchist sense, as opposed to a party-political sense.

            And in terms of the cost of the royal family, it costs just 62p per person per year. And in return for that, we get huge numbers of tourists visiting the country and a head of state who, unlike others, has no political orientation.

            Note that 7 of the top 10 most democratic countries in the world (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands) are constitutional monarchies.
          • To all

            I am sorry for being an A@# and sorry for offending good people. I know that people live in one place or another because that is what they like and that if we were all alike the world would be a boring place. I will try to have positive conversation on here or not type at all. Sorry for speaking down about your Heritage.
          • Royal

            No need to apologise. The British royal family are descended from a long line of despotic barbarians. They're not heritage, they're an embarrassment.
          • Nonsense

            Where exactly have you got the raw data from to calculate the 62p cost of the British monarchy?

            The monarchy is exempt from the FoI Act, so I assume that your figures are based on guess work. Just because you read it in the Daily Mail doesn't make it true.

            I'm going to suggest that the monarchy actually costs each Briton £254,098 per year. Hmm, making up figures is quite easy. No wonder monarchists do it.

            I am also yet to be presented with a single tourist who wanted to visit Britain because of our political system. Who thinks 'yeah, I'll go to Japan because they're a constitutional monarchy'?

            Your attitude is unpatriotic and an affront to the varied and interesting culture that draws millions of tourists to Britain each year.
  • Wait, . . . It wasn't Al Gore?

    Ummm, . . . this is an inconvient truth.
    • Al

      I though Al invented the internet, without which of course there would be no WWW!
  • TBL

    Did you also spot the number plate of the Mini at the start of that sequence?

    TBL 2012