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The Web That Wasn’t
For most of us who work on the Internet, the Web is all we have ever really known. It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without browsers, URLs and HTTP. But in the years leading up to Tim Berners-Lee’s world-changing invention, a few visionary information scientists were exploring alternative systems that often bore little resemblance to the Web as we know it today.
In this presentation, author and information architect Alex Wright will explore the heritage of these almost-forgotten systems in search of promising ideas left by the historical wayside. The presentation will focus on the pioneering work of Paul Otlet, Vannevar Bush, and Doug Engelbart, forebears of the 1960s and 1970s like Ted Nelson, Andries van Dam, and the Xerox PARC team, and more recent forays like Brown’s Intermedia system. We’ll trace the heritage of these systems and the solutions they suggest to present day Web quandaries, in hopes of finding clues to the future in the recent technological past.
Alex Wright is an information architect at the New York Times and the author of Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages . His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Salon.com, Harvard Magazine and the Christian Science Monitor, among others. Alex has led information architecture engagements for The Long Now Foundation, California Digital Library, Harvard University, IBM, Microsoft, Rollyo and Sun Microsystems, among others. He maintains a personal Web site at www.alexwright.org.
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