When I heard Gordon Brown reveal the name of his latest celebrity appointment in the Commons, I was intrigued. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, now charged with helping free up government data for all to use, is not a political animal. Had the founding father of the web realised, 3,000 miles away in Boston where he is based, that he risked becoming embroiled in Westminster politics? After all, it took only a few hours for Sir Alan Sugar to come under attack after his appointment as the government’s Competitiveness Czar.
But when I got hold of Sir Tim on the phone yesterday, he was adamant that this was not some party political job, but part of a grand global mission. He pointed me towards a speech he’d made at the TED conference in California about the issue, where he stressed the importance of setting free all sorts of public data, part of his continuing efforts to reframe the web as a tool for interpreting numbers as well as words.