Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Gopher protocol, an early alternative to HTTP & the World Wide Web, stagnated because its developers charged a licencing fee

"As I pick up my pita bread, I observe that his 1989 proposal for the universal linked information system that became the web reads more like an attempt to solve nitty-gritty organisational problems than a utopian dream of social change. At Cern, he was struggling to collaborate with volunteers around the world. Cern’s multinational staff moved around so much that the institution’s telephone directory was among the first databases he wanted to link up online. “The other projects I was doing were done by volunteers all over the world,” he recalls. “I wanted to be able to have it as a very collaborative play space, and still the web hasn’t fully provided what I wanted then in terms of being a really powerful collaborative medium.”
Berners-Lee’s belief that his invention is unfinished has turned the geek into an activist. “The web is a social invention as much as a technical invention,” he says. “It’s the whole cat and mouse game between the readers and writers that makes the web work.”
What also made it work, he adds, is that he and Robert Cailliau, his collaborator at Cern, “badgered” the institution not to seek royalties from the invention. The free web soon raced ahead of the rival Gopher protocol, developed at the University of Minnesota, which charged a licence fee."

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