Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Dan gives us a nice history of Internet browsing

I've posted before about the evolution of web interfaces and how it's brought us to new eras, like the Dawn of Second Life (sounds like a movie title, doesn't it?). I'm always in the market for a good concise history listen and today I came across a post from Dan York at Disruptive Conversations that is just that. It also ends with some provocative questions about where all this evolution stuff might be going.

Here's a snippet. I recommend you head over to Dan's blog to read the whole thing.

Last week Chris Brogan wrote a post asking basically 'What the Hell is Up with Second Life?' where he talks about his own uncertainty about the value of Second Life.' It's a good post to read, and has some great comments as well.' I wound up posting my own comment to Chris -'and then decided that it was'a long enough commet that I should also just post it here.' So here it is:' (comments are of course welcome)

Nice post... I think that, like you, many of us are trying to figure out what exactly Second Life means 'in the big picture' of online communication.

To me the interesting aspect is that the combination of increasingly faster CPUs and increasingly ubiquitous broadband access has brought us to a space where we can actually interact with people in a '3-D' virtual world in something close to real time - and so Second Life represents to me an attempt at a newer interface for online communication and collaboration.

If you go back to the late 1980s, the dominant interface on computer networks was text 'terminal window' (vt100, telnet, whatever) and all the interfaces were entirely text-based. Going into the early 1990s probably the leading interface at the time was the menu-based (and text) gopher. I still remember one of the first versions of my 'Introduction to the Internet' courseware I wrote then that had a final chapter on new and upcoming technologies which talked about this thing called 'World Wide Web' which was access by telnetting to and logging in as 'www'. To follow a hypertext link you pressed the number on your keyboard that was after each link (see the image to the left).

Then came 1993 and the introduction of NCSA's Mosaic browser which fundamentally changed the user interface paradigm. Suddenly you could use your mouse! (Gasp!) And.... you could have *images* on the same page as text! Of course network connections (and PCs) were far slower then, so image-laden pages sometimes took forever to load, but it was a huge improvement over the text-only world....

(Via Disruptive Conversations.)

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