I remember a few years ago receiving a copy of Weaving the Web by Tim Berners-Lee as a gift. Tim Berners-Lee is of course the inventor of the World Wide Web and is a real hero of mine. This is a fascinating book about the events which lead up to the invention of the web.
Tim Berners-Lee graduated in physics and created a programme called Enquire at CERN. The programme stored relationships between scientists at CERN, their projects and their contact details. In fact, it sounds very much like what wikis do today.
He discusses the launch of the first page on the web, the different protocols and the concept of URLs, the spread in popularity across the globe, early web browsers and the launch of the W3C web standards consortium.
In the last half of the book, he discusses what he saw as the future of the web: the social and eventually the semantic web. Although the book was written in 2000 at the height of the dotcom boom, it is interesting that this vision is only becoming realised today with the rapid explosion in social networking websites over the last year or so. The semantic web still looks like it’ll be a few years away but DBPedia might be one site to watch.
I was amused when I visited Switzerland a few years ago to see CERN advertising itself as the place where the World Wide Web was invented. No, never mind the physics. After reading the book, I found out that the people at CERN weren’t particularly enthusiastic about the web to begin with and I feel CERN may be slightly exaggerating their role in the development of the web.
Even though this book is reaching a decade old, it’s still a fantastic account of how the web came about. If you’re interested in the web as a whole and where it might go in the future, this is still one to read. I’m sure history students will be studying this text in 100 years time.