Sir Tim Berners-Lee is an intimidating interviewee. It’s not so much the worry about keeping up with the brain that invented the world wide web; it’s that when you Google him (in the circumstances, there seems no shame in this method of research), you soon find he has compiled a list of answers to questions that journalists have asked too many times before.
No, he patiently explains on his website, he did not invent the internet; the web is an application that runs on the internet like a fridge uses the power grid. And no, he states, he does not have mixed emotions about his refusal to “cash in” on his invention ”“ “You can’t propose that something be a universal space and at the same time keep control of it.” Nor will he tell you much about his personal life because “what is on the web on this page and my home page is all there is”.
“I thought once I’d put a question on the web, I’d never have to answer it again. And I thought once I got a photographer to take some darn photos of me and put them on the web, then I’d never have to be photographed again,” he says when we meet at his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “Was I wrong!”