The Evolution of the Web
Once upon a time (in 1993), I read a Usenet posting about a new communications
technology. Sure, we were annoyed with FTP for sharing documents, and Gopher
wasn't much of an improvement. This technology wasn't just a new
client, or a new protocol, or a new server… it was all three.
It doesn't seem that long ago, but now I am working with engineers who have
never experienced a world without "the web"… and some of them live in China!
But at that time, when I downloaded the CERN
httpd server, the
Viola browser (which I soon swapped out for Mosaic),
and the RFC for this I find it funny that I have to post links to Wikipedia entries for these
new HTTP specification, I could see the potential, and set up a
system for my collegues.
A month later, in order to display a summary of my "web" documents, I put
together a C program adhering to the new CGI specification,
but realized that Perl would be a better… This wasn't my job, I just needed
to share information about the X.25 network module I was working on,
but soon, making web applications became my job.
My point of this essay is not just to verify my age, but to explain a
curious metaphor I ran across the other day.
Like all biologic systems, the "web" has evolved in similar ways. For instance,
one creature mutated an accepted the following tag:
<blink>This text is annoying to view.</blink>
It wasn't part of the HTML specification, however, every other browser had
to support it. No one would even think to use that tag now, but most browsers
still have code for it.††FYI: Google's Chrome browser doesn't support it.
While we often have to speculate about the original purpose of the appendix
and blood vessels in front of backward-facing light cells in our eyes,
many of us remember the concessions we had to make in order to push forward
a world of inter-communication.
Also, like biologic systems, the internet has no intrisic meaning, and after
many years and thousands of monkeys banging out text in their browsers, we
still haven't produced anything that Shakespeare would marvel.
Well, except for kittens asking for cheeseburgers.
Tell others about this article: