The goodness/adoption paradox

The good is the enemy of the best.


Another excellent example of the tenuous relationship between an idea's goodness and its success is the technology behind the World Wide Web. When Tim Berners-Lee invented the Web, he didn't have the future of technological development in mind. His tool of choice for making web sites, called HTML, reflected simple notions for what documents would be like in the future. He didn't imagine the Web would have its own economy with bookstores and banks, nor was he thinking about the billions of personal and professional web sites that would become our primary way to communicate. Instead, he thought about scientific research papers, text-heavy one-way communication, because that's what the organization he worked for worried about.

His passion for simplicity was so great that he initially downplayed the role of images and media, focusing instead on text. For his purposes, HTML was lightweight, simple, and easy to learn. Why weigh it down with the unnecessary features of other programming languages? He explicitly wanted something easier than the complex tools used for making software programs so that people could easily make web pages. In 1991, the first web server was up and running, and Berners-Lee's colleagues soon made their own web sites and web pages. [147]

In 1993, there were 130 web sites, but within six months, that number more than quadrupled. By 1995, there were over 23,000; the number would continue to double ...

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