Opera CTO’s Internet Optimism is World Wide

As a long, hot, possibly chaotic summer of politics and polarization beckons, we thought it a good idea to share this optimistic interview with the Håkon Wium Lie — recently named CTO at Opera Software, parent company of the internet browser Opera.

Wium Lie is from Norway, one of the founders of the World Wide Web, and a leading member of a member of Norway’s notorious Pirate Party, which touts the platform of "full transparency in state management, privacy on the internet, as well as better use of IT and technology to make a better democracy.” We like all that.

In full disclosure, we’ll note the story we’ve shared is from the Russian news site, Sputnik, which does its best not to overly define itself as Russian on its “About Page,” but, you know, duh.

Still, Wium Lie is legit (his last name not withstanding). During the 1990s, he worked alongside the World Wide Web’s inventor Tim Berners-Lee at Cern to develop CSS. He’s got a clear eyed perspective as he looks back, and an appealing upbeat eye as he looks forward.

The first portion of the interview is wonkier, but it gets really interesting as it goes on, particularly as Wium Lie talks about surveillance, privacy, how Opera recently acquired a VPN privacy company, and the pushback that will likely come from new competition now that Microsoft has acquired LinkedIn.

But we love his conclusion most of all: “if you go back 500 years you'll find invention of the printing press, which is probably the only thing that the Web can be compared to. I think the Web is bigger than TV and radio, for example. The printing press changed Europe fundamentally. Europe after the printing press had reformation, renaissance, the industrial revolution — all these great things happened as a result of being able to distribute information freely, or, at least inexpensively. And the Web has the same caliber, but it's bigger, it's worldwide, it has changed the whole planet. And some things are not so good. There are threats, there are bad guys, there are crooks out there, but overall, I think, the Web will do us good.”

Amen to that. May our 7CTOs members be part of making “good.”