It's amazing how quickly the Web has become essential to intellectual life. It seems inevitable now, but it wasn't at the time. I've been on the web for ten years now (both publishing and reading; one of the breakthroughs of the Web) and in that time my thinking has evolved some, but mostly in the direction of complacency.

Looking at my old email so many funny things jump out. The verb "mosaicable". Connecting locally in Oregon as a way to start on the Web (thanks, Eric Tilton!). Convincing my college to let students publish without editorial approval. Debating whether to use the GN server to stay Gopher compatible. Confusion about how to write HTML, simplistic guides. Explaining the web to some very brilliant scientists. And my own contribution to Web development, html-helper-mode.

Two things made the World Wide Web succeed over University of Minnesota's Gopher or Brewster Kahle's WAIS. Everyone knows about the importance of inline images in Mosaic. But a much more subtle success factor is the Web's decentralization. Making it easy for anyone to publish was a revolution. WAIS was centrally adminstered, requiring help from someone else to bring your site into the network. Gopher was a bit more decentralized but it was still hard to publish a new page without involving an admin. By contrast anyone could set up a Web page and start linking it to other pages. And so they did, and so the Web was born. It feels permanent.

Inspired by Justin Hall's 10 years of
  2004-02-08 18:52 Z