Friday, February 24, 2006

SPEAKER: Co-author of "Weaving the Web" to talk March 23 at MCLA

The co-author of a book about the invention of the World Wide Web -- the graphical, browser-based interface which caused the previously text-only Internet to take off -- will speak to the "Future of Journalism" seminar on Thurs., March 23, at 7 p.m., in Bowman Room 101 at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Great Barrington-based author/journalist Mark Fischetti was the professional writer who helped Tim Berners-Lee write the book "Weaving the Web" (Harper Collins, 1999). Berner-Lee is the British-born computer scientist credited with writing the code that launched the first "web browser." He did so while a researcher at a Swiss physics laboratory.

Fischetti says Berners-Lee wrote the non-technical book because the inventor wanted to document what he had in mind when he create the web interface, and his visions for how it might be used. In his March 23 talk, Fischetti will compare what Berners-Lee wanted -- and predicted -- for the web when he developed it in the early 1990s to what exists today and what may be coming.

For example, Berners-Lee wanted the Web to be two-way -- with pages and content as easy to write as to read. Initially pages were not readily editable. But in the last year, "wikis" have become prominent as a form of "read-write" web, and blogs, which allow easy posting and commenting, are a phenomenon.

Mark Fischetti is a veteran science writer, a contributing editor to Scientific American, and is currently issue editor for Scientific American Mind, a new magazine about the brain and mind. He has written for The New York Times, Smithsonian magazine, Technology Review, and many other publications.

His 2001 article, "Drowning New Orleans," in Scientific American predicted the widespread disaster that a hurricane like Katrina would impose, and described comprehensive projects that would save the Mississippi delta. After Katrina hit he appeared as an expert on CNN, NBC's "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert, the History Channel, NPR News, and international media. He has just published "Protecting New Orleans" in Scientific American, February 2006, which presents engineering solutions to protect New Orleans and the delta from future storms.

Fischetti has a physics degree and is co-author with Elinor Levy of The New Killer Diseases (Crown, 2003), which included early warnings about bird flu, and of Weaving the Web (HarperCollins, 1999), written with Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web.

He is a former managing editor of IEEE Spectrum, the world's largest engineering and technology magazine. His 2002 article, "Why Not a 40-mpg SUV?" in Technology Review exposed how far-greater fuel efficiency coud be built into the nation's vehicles, a realization that in 2006 is finally becoming widespread.

Fischetti has edited or ghostwritten a half-dozen other books, and has twice served as the Attaway Fellow in Civic Culture at Centenary College in Louisiana, in 2003 and 2006.

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