Here’s to the NeXT 20 Years of the World Wide Web

Ben Bajarin / August 8th, 2011

Tim Berners-Lee's NeXT Computer

Saturday August 6th marked the 20 year anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee publishing the first website. Whether he knew all that the web would become or not he still had the foresight to start the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) to ensure that standards drove compatability. If it wasn’t for the W3C I am not sure the web as we know it today would exist.

Internet standards have been one of the central forces that got us to where we are today and will be one of the central driving forces that will get us where will go tomorrow.

Interestingly enough Berners-Lee published the first website on the World Wide Web using a NeXT Computer. For those not familiar with history NeXT was the company Steve Jobs founded after his departure from Apple. That same NeXT computer that Berners-Lee used also became the worlds first web server.

I say I find that interesting because here we have yet again another Steve Jobs creation involved in a monumental moment in our industries history.

The World Wide Web has changed quite a bit in 20 years but I believe the web will change in the next five years more than it has in the last 20. Several things will drive this change and the first will be new advancements in semiconductors.

Silicon Advancements Will Lead the Way
We can track a great deal of technological progress to the microprocessor; it again will be at the heart of the next generation web.

At a fundamental level with each new process technology we are able to pack more transistors onto a single piece of silicon. This is key because the more transistors on a single chip the more that chip can do. The more that chip can do the more the hardware and software community can take advantage of its power and efficiency.

I’ve heard a great quote from time to time and it goes like this: “a software engineer will never tell you that we have enough microprocessing power.” Basically if we build it the software community will take advantage of it.

When I analyze the long term roadmaps from both X86 providers and the ARM community, I am convinced that not just local software like operating systems and applications but web software and web apps will all be transformed.

What we are seeing today from visual computing, speech and voice processing, graphics and media is still only scratching the surface. Next generation silicon is what will make next generation software possible.

Don’t Forget About Web Standards
Standards are the second thing that I believe will drive the future innovations of web software. The bottom line is HTML and JavaScript are some of the most, if not THE most, important programming languages for our future.

The comittee’s that drive these standards and the companies who help define them play a critical role in establishing the technical vision for the future of the web.

As I said near the beginning of this article that without the web standards we woudln’t have the web today. Had we not had standards the web, like many other technologies, would have fragmented and cross platform compatability may have never happened. Could you imagine if each company had their own version of the web and only their hardware could access their version of the Internet? That is why standards were key to the early web and will be key to the future web.

The Invisible Internet
Still today in the consciousness of many is the concept of getting ” on the Internet.” We are getting close to a world where the Internet is invisible but we are not quite there yet. Someday this consciousness about being “online” will dissappear and there will be no online or offline.

The Internet will be so deeply embedded into nearly everything that we will interact with it on any number of levels and we won’t even think about it. Crazy and somewhat scary to think about now but I believe it’s true.

We have a long way to go with a tremendous amount of innovation still ahead of us. I am also interested in which companies will be the leaders in bringing us the future web. To the point about NeXT being involved in the first web page, i’m willing to bet a Steve Jobs creation will be in the mix with the future web as well.

I for one am excited to see what the next 20 years has in store for the world. In closing I leave you with a great info graphic on the history of the World Wide Web.

Click here to see the full image.

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio
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