Berners-Lee: web address slashes were "a mistake"

15 Oct 2009
Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee has described the // in web addresses as "pretty pointless" and admitted he'd get rid of them if he could

Tim Berners-Lee has offered a tongue-in-cheek apology for the // which appear at the beginning of web addresses, describing them as pointless and unnecessary.

Berners-Lee is widely considered the father of the internet, but speaking at a technology symposium in Washington he admitted to a few regrets. "Really, if you think about it, it doesn’t need the //. I could have designed it not to have the //," he said. "Boy, now people on the radio are calling it 'backslash backslash'.

"People are having to use that finger so much. Look at all the paper and trees that could have been saved if people had not had to write or type out those slashes on paper over the years — not to mention the human labour and time spent typing those two keystrokes countless millions of times in browser address boxes," he said, before concluding.

"There you go, it seemed like a good idea at the time."

Sir Berners-Lee is director of the World Wide Web Consortium, charged with overseeing further development of the internet, and also spoke about the need to develop the "semantic" web - capable of discerning the meaning behind information, rather than just reading the information presented.

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