Berners-Lee had a project that did many things correctly that the web did incorrectly.

Berners-Lee had a project that did many things correctly that the web did incorrectly. It was called Enquire, and it was a simplified version of some ideas from Project Xanadu. The world wide web was created as a teaching tool for explaining the concepts behind Enquire to CERN suits, because Berners-Lee had been having a hard time explaining Xanadu concepts to them.

Early web standards also solved many problems that plague the current web. If HTTP 1.1 was implemented properly, including all of the optional features, and it was used as intended, major problems like URL inconsistency would be solved. Unfortunately, important features of HTTP 1.0 and 1.1 are not implemented by any major web server, and other features are consistently used in a way that eliminates their original function.

The web as it stands now is much less than what it could have been even in the early 90s. I’m being deliberately provocative in recommending we use only the features of the web that better in the web than in other technology stacks, but the problem of using the wrong tool for the job in order to avoid learning about the right tool is real, and the web is the wrong tool for most of the jobs it does.

I’m not arguing against progress, here: I’m arguing against using poor solutions to problems for which good solutions exist. The fact that many poor solutions are newer than many good solutions is just a side effect of the widespread ignorance of history in the industry.

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