The Web at Twenty

carThe World Wide Web turned 20 this month. At 20 it’s worth reflecting on why the Web did prevail as it did. It was far from obvious that the web would succeed. Microsoft, CompuServ and others had plans for proprietary networks, usually calling them “Information Superhighways”.

The WWW succeeded due to two reasons in my mind. First was simplicity. The HTTP protocol is relatively simple protocol and ignored problems such as back-linking (later researched by the Google founders).

Second was the generic (or maybe generative) nature of the web. Anybody can create applications, and the list is long due to the countless ideas out there. The proprietary networks would never have done anything similar.

But at 20 the interesting part is this: if we compare the web with the car, we’re at 1905. Imagine cars from 1905 and remember Ford is starting out around this time. I think the web is in its early stages and that we are just beginning.