Roy Thomas Fielding, 34
University of California, Irvine
Without public streets, common laws and mutually held beliefs, life would be nasty, brutish and short. So would a trip on the Web if it weren’t for Roy Fielding. Fielding is a primary force behind open-source software, a movement that has brought transparent standards to the most widely used Internet programs. Fielding’s first big contribution came in 1994, when he invented a way for browsers to efficiently update stored Web pages, by transmitting information only if something has changed. Without this traffic-saving advance, the Web might have collapsed under its own explosive growth. Thanks to that success, Fielding was tapped byWWW inventor Tim Berners-Lee to author the latest version of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP),the standard that governs how computers exchange text, image, video and sound over the Internet. Fielding’s dedication to open standards means that no single company can control the Web.
Indeed, Fielding, who is due to receive his PhD this year from the University of California, Irvine, is also co-founder and chairman of the Apache Group,a collective of programmers whose free software now powers more than half of all Web servers--trouncing competition from Microsoft and Netscape.