updated 9/17/2008 6:12:26 PM ET 2008-09-17T22:12:26

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, is helping start a new foundation with the aim of supporting the Web as a tool that's open and accessible to everyone.

Exactly what the World Wide Web Foundation is going to do hasn't been decided yet, but Berners-Lee pointed to some possible areas of focus, like making the Web better suited to people in emerging countries.

"I understand that 80 percent of the planet don't use the Web, but quite a large number ... may have signal from a cell tower," Berners-Lee said.

Those people might use a cell phone to get access to the Web, but the problems don't end there. "It might not work for the way they want to work. They may be illiterate, for example," Berners-Lee said in an interview.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation said it will give the WWW Foundation $5 million in seed money to get its operations started.

The idea for the foundation springs from Berners-Lee's involvement with the World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, which sets standards for Web technology, and the Web Science Research Initiative.

The chief executive of the W3C, Steve Bratt, will leave that position to assume the same title at the new foundation. The W3C has many big-name donors behind it, and Bratt said they would be invited to donate to the new foundation as well.

"We're going to be ... hopefully attracting some significant donations to really get this thing off the ground starting early next year," Bratt said. "We expect a big announcement sometime early next year when we'll be talking about the programs we expect to be funding."

Berners-Lee, now based in Cambridge, Mass., proposed the Web in 1989 while working at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (known as CERN) and created the first browser a year later.

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