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Sir Tim Berners-Lee To Track Origins Of Digital Content

The Web inventor's share of the $5.5 million Knight News Challenge award will tackle what his backers believe is one of the most pressing challenges.

Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has received a grant to create a technology that will give users more information about the origins and sources of digital content.

Berners-Lee received a Knight News Challenge award Wednesday, during the Interactive Media Conference and Tradeshow 2008 in Las Vegas. He is one of 16 winners of the John S. and James L. Knight News Challenge, a global contest held to promote digital information innovations that transform community life.

Winning projects will: use the Web for publicly funded investigative journalism projects; create software that transforms computers into digital radio transmitters for community news stations in India; blog about how students can measure and track their personal demand on natural resources through interactive games. One project aims to deliver news by text message to affordable cell phones in communities with limited communications technologies in developing countries.

"More and more, if you're not in the digital conversation about your community, you're not in a conversation that matters," Alberto Ibarguen, president and CEO of Knight Foundation, said in an announcement.

Berners-Lee's project tackles what his backers believe is one of the most pressing challenges: uncovering the source of online content. Berners-Lee will work with the Media Standards Trust and his Web Science Research Initiative.

"Just as the Knight brothers used their newspapers to help create the conversations about improving life in their communities, we look forward to these projects that use new information tools to inform and inspire community," Ibarguen said.

This is the second year of the contest and applicant numbers rose to 3,000, an increase of 82% since last year. Foreign applicants represented 40% of the total, up from 15% last year.

Winners received a total of $5.5 million from the foundation. Prizes ranged from $15,000 to $876,000. Winners came from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, England, Lithuania, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Russia. Their work will help people in rural India, towns in South Africa, and on U.S. college campuses.

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