Weaving the Web – The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web by its Inventor

27 January 2000

by Tim Berners-Lee and Mark Fischetti, Harper, San Francisco, 1999, ISBN 0 060 251586 1 ($26).


If you’ve ever wondered what goes on in the mind of an inventor you could do a lot worse than delve into Tim Berners-Lee’s Weaving the Web. In it he and co-author Mark Fischetti explain the origins of the ideas that are now revolutionizing the communications landscape, and the vision that lies behind them.

From a childhood spent discussing maths at the breakfast table and building mock-up replicas of the Ferranti computers his parents worked on, Berners-Lee moved on to building his own computer out of salvaged pieces of electronics and an early microprocessor chip.

In 1980, he went to CERN on a six-month contract. There he wrote a hypertext program called Enquire to help him keep track of the complex web of who did what on the accelerator controls project he worked on. Back at CERN at the end of the decade, Berners-Lee transported the idea behind Enquire to the Internet, with the now well known results.

Berners-Lee’s book is a very personal account, and it’s all the more readable for that. Like most of us, Tim Berners-Lee has a mind that’s better at storing random associations than hierarchical structures. And, like most of us, his mind is prone to mislaying some of those associations. Enquire began as an effort to overcome that shortcoming and evolved into something much bigger.

Berners-Lee is an idealist, driven by the desire to make the world a better place and the profound belief that the Web can do that. Now far from the rarefied air of a pure research laboratory, Berners-Lee gives credit to the atmosphere in which his ideas were allowed to mature. “I was very lucky, in working at CERN, to be in an environment… of mutual respect and of building something very great through a collective effort that was well beyond the means of any one person,” he explained. “The environment was complex and rich; any two people could get together and exchange views, and even end up working together. This system produced a weird and wonderful machine, which needed care to maintain, but could take advantage of the ingenuity, inspiration, and intuition of individuals in a special way. That, from the start, has been my goal for the World Wide Web.”


  • Accelerators | Conference IPAC 2024 19—24 May 2024 | Nashville, US
  • Flavour physics | Conference FPCP 2024 27—31 May 2024 | Bangkok, Thailand
  • Strong interactions | Conference SQM 2024 3—7 June 2024 | Strasbourg, France
bright-rec iop pub iop-science physcis connect