Date: Mon Apr 09 2001 - 21:35:02 MDT

Jim Fehlinger, <>, writes:
> And for an analysis that claims that any tightly-designed,
> do-it-right approach to networked hypertext was doomed to failure,
> and that all the things that are bad about the Web as we know and
> love it (such as unidirectional links) were actually **necessary**
> to its success, see:

This is a good article, and the other thing to keep in mind is that at the
time of its creation, the Web was just another hypertext system. It was
not the first implementation of hypertext, nor the best. It existed in
a competitive environment where there were many hypertext systems for
sale and in use. Most of these however were closed, commercial systems
which worked better at small scales.

The web grew slowly at first, as well. We tend to forget how slow
exponential growth is. Doubling every year is amazing when you go
from 500 million users to 1 billion. It's not so impressive when you
go from 50 users to 100 after a whole year. Berners-Lee for a long
time kept a pointer to every single web page in the world at his site.
It was several years before he had to give that up.

Now Berners-Lee is pushing XML as a replacement for HTML (that is,
XHTML as the XML version of HTML). Along with this will come other XML
based extensions which will provide for at least the mechanism to have
bidirectional links, labeled links, and some of the other features which
critics have called for. It remains to be seen whether these extensions
will catch on.

Ultimately it's a matter of what the market wants. The web suited
people's requirements better than the more ambitious systems, because
it was easy to implement and use.


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