La propuesta de Tim Berners-Lee

Interesante el análisis realizado por la revista Time en The Web at 25: Revisiting Tim Berners-Lee’s Amazing Proposal:

Here are some of the things that made “Information Management: A Proposal” so powerful:

Berners-Lee borrowed existing ideas. Rather than trying to convince anyone at CERN to support anything too radical, he recommended bringing together technologies and concepts his colleagues already knew and understood. For instance, as he mentions in his document, the concept of hypertext already existed; it had been named years before by Ted Nelson, whose wildly-ambitious-but-unfinished-even-in-2014 Project Xanadu presaged many aspects of the web. And the proposal’s opening infographic references Bill Atkinson’s brilliant Mac software HyperCard, whose “stacks” were akin to rudimentary websites that could be distributed on floppy disks.

He was realistic. Xanadu was supposed to implement super-sophisticated features such as intelligent links that would auto-adjust themselves if a document moved, and built-in accounting for royalties so that authors could make money off their hypertext creations. Berners-Lee, who was eager to propose something that one or two people could put together in a year or less, slashed out every detail that wasn’t absolutely necessary.

He made decentralization fundamental. “Most systems available today use a single database,” Berners-Lee wrote. They stored a lot of stuff, all in one place. He proposed something entirely different: a way to link up disparate documents and databases, no matter where they resided.

He aimed for universal compatibility. Though Berners-Lee coded the original WorldWideWeb software on a computer from NeXT — the company Steve Jobs started after being forced out of Apple in 1985 — he wanted the web to be available everywhere, on every sort of computer used at CERN, including Macs and VAX minicomputers.

He wanted to make sharing simple. It’s tempting now to think of the web as something that didn’t become social until this century, with the arrival of services such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. But from the start, Berners-Lee proposed a tool for painless, democratized collaboration among CERN’s staff of “several thousand people, many of them very creative, all working toward common goals.”

He looked forward. Berners-Lee said that all CERN needed at moment was a tool capable of distributing text documents formatted for a screen with 24 rows of 80 characters apiece. But he said graphics were a possible future area of expansion, and even mentioned speech and video — forms of media that barely existed in digital form in 1989.

He knew that everybody would eventually need something like the system he was proposing. “CERN meets now some problems which the rest of the world will have to face soon,” Berners-Lee wrote. “In 10 years, there may be many commercial solutions to the problems above, while today we need something to allow us to continue.”

Profesor del Departamento de Lenguajes y Sistemas Informáticos de la Universidad de Alicante (España). Interesado en el desarrollo y la accesibilidad web.

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