by Dean MillerOctober, 1999
One of the most significant changes in the last 20 years has been the development and awe-inspiring acceptance of the World Wide Web. People use the Web to communicate around the globe. The story of how such technology came to prominence is engrossing, particularly when the creator of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee, writes it himself, as he does in Weaving the Web.
From the early days in the 1980s when the author was developing the Web in one lab in Switzerland to the ubiquitous technology used by countless millions today, the author details the roadblocks and breakthroughs that built the World Wide Web. It is the story of twin development: the technology and software to access the Web, and the creation of a vast world-wide infrastructure of servers and information to populate the Web. Berners-Lee effectively walks the line by giving enough technical details for the reader to understand what went into the Web's creation without drowning the average non-technical reader in computer science lingo and archaic programming terms. Berners-Lee spends more time discussing the psychology of how he conceived the Web, and how he wanted the pieces and details to work together.
No technology is developed in a vacuum, however, and Berners-Lee does an excellent job of giving credit to those whose inventions and inspirations gave the Web key boosts during its nascent stages. In fact, the egos and personalities that had to mesh for the Web to work make for some lively reading and give what could have been a book solely about technology an added depth.
Most interesting, however, is the author's view of the World Wide Web's future. The technological leap the Web has made is but a small step compared to the direction Berners-Lee would like it to go. In the last two chapters of the book, he proposes a future Web that has profound and lasting social and business effects that are not even considered today, and if his future endeavors match the tireless effort he put into the Web's first 20 years, it is easy to imagine what his follow-up book will detail.