Multimedia and a Brief History of the World Wide Web


People always ask me how multimedia fits in with the WWW.

Well, it is the next logical progression in this amazing phenomenon we call the Internet, which didn't actually exist (as we know it) 12 or so years ago. The internet wasn't even invented until 1989... here's a crash history.


Tim Berners-Lee is the inventor of the Web. In 1989, Tim was working in a computing services section of CERN when he came up with the concept (web); at the time he had no idea that it would be implemented on such an enormous scale. Particle physics research often involves collaboration among institutes from all over the world. Tim had the idea of enabling researchers from remote sites in the world to organize and pool together information. But far from simply making available a large number of research documents as files that could be downloaded to individual computers; he suggested that you could actually link the text in the files themselves.

In other words, there could be cross-references from one research paper to another. This would mean that while reading one research paper, you could quickly display part of another paper that holds directly relevant text or diagrams. Documentation of a scientific and mathematical nature would thus be represented as a ‘web' of information held in electronic form on computers across the world. This, Tim thought, could be done by using some form of hypertext, some way of linking documents together by using buttons on the screen, which you simply clicked on to jump from one paper to another.

Tim's simple but effective idea turned out to be the greatest communication device of humanity even if it was not supported by big companies and manufacturers. For instance, Hewlett-Packard, in common with many other large computer companies, was quite unconvinced that the Internet would be a success; indeed, the need for a global hypertext system simply passed them by. For many large corporations, the question of whether or not any money could be made from the Web was unclear from the outset.

Later, especially after Mosaic, the first web browser was released; the competition between the companies became more obvious. The later version of Mosaic in competition with the Microsoft Internet Explorer added new features to the HTML language like n-compass and active-x controls respectively. Meanwhile, the World Wide Web Consortium was formed to fulfill the potential of the Web through the development of open standards. They had a strong interest in HTML. Just as an orchestra insisting on the best musicians, the consortium recruited many of the best-known names in the Web community headed up by Tim Berners-Lee. During 1995, all kinds of new HTML tags emerged. Some, like the BGCOLOR attribute of the BODY element and FONT FACE, which control stylistic aspects of a document, found themselves in the black books of the academic engineering community. "You're not supposed to be able to do things like that in HTML," they would protest. In the end, the technology of web was for the pure purpose of science and technology. It was not supposed to turn into a multimedia "tool". It was their belief that such things as text color, background texture, font size and font face were definitely outside the scope of a language when their only intent was to specify how a document would be organized.

While the W3 Consortium was working on already the HTML 3, the web design was benefiting the competition between the Netscape and IE. Even for the good intentions of the consortium, the big corporations insisted on creating their own derivatives for HTML. This was creating many compatibility problems. Finally, following the success of the November, 1995 meeting, the World Wide Web Consortium formed the HTML Editorial Review Board to help with the standardization process. This board consisted of representatives from IBM, Microsoft, Netscape, Novell, Softquad and the W3 Consortium, and did its business via telephone conference and email exchanges, meeting approximately once every three months. Its aim was to collaborate and agree upon a common standard for HTML, thus putting an end to the era when browsers each implemented a different subset of the language. The bad fairy of incompatibility was to be banished from the HTML kingdom forever, or one could hope so, perhaps.

The incompatibility was not banished but was at least minimized. However, HTML kept on growing and the last versions like the dynamic HTML, like HTML 4.0 brought new colors and usages for this language. Especially after the edition of style sheets, it became extremely difficult to standardize the view of a web page depending on the browser you use.

As you can see, HTML was written for the pure purpose of information sharing but turned into a mass communication mechanism. It was supposed to be an organizational language, and yet became a multimedia source where you can edit the layout and add images, sound and many other multimedia files. We can blame the evolution process of this language for the non-standardized nature of it.




Dave Foster owns and operates the "Solo Profits" blog and podcast, guiding individual entrepreneurs and home-based business owners to online success using audio, video and multimedia techniques. Dave also explores the virgin territory of multimedia psychology and how to present your message effectively through these new communications channels. Want to discover more? Go To ==>> http://www.soloprofits.com