Tim Berners-Lee Joins Twitter

The inventor of the World Wide Web has arrived, somewhat belatedly, in the Twitterverse. Tim Berners-Lee, head of the Cambridge, MA-based World Wide Web Consortium, set up a Twitter account shortly before making an appearance at O’Reilly Media’s Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco yesterday.

Normally it wouldn’t be news when Twitter gains a new user—somewhere between 10 million and 20 million people already use the microblogging service, which makes it easy for users to share short, 140-character messages with anyone who signs up to follow their tweets. But Berners-Lee is a special case.

People follow the man who came up with the idea for a network of hyperlinked, consistently formatted electronic documents—and who still oversees its evolution—as if his every move were prophetic. As TechCrunch put it, Berners-Lee joining Twitter is the kind of event (at least in the blogosphere) that “could potentially rip a hole in the time/space continuum.”

So, how is Sir Berners-Lee making use of the new medium? As of this writing, he’s tweeted only twice—once to complain that Twitter’s user interface is confusing, the second time to say that he was “following the teens.” We gather that this wasn’t a reference to Twitter’s popularity among teens, but to the Web 2.0 summit talk that preceded his appearance, a session called “What Do Teens Want?” led by former Piper Jaffray analyst Safa Rashtchy.

Berners-Lee is gaining Twitter followers fast—when we checked at 5:00 a.m. Eastern time this morning, he had 218. As of this writing, that number had zoomed up to 1,849. But the father of the Web still has a ways to go to catch up with Ashton Kutcher, who has more than 3.8 million followers.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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