18 December 2005

Blogging Avant la Lettre

As I have written elsewhere, blogging is as old as the Web itself. In fact, as a perceptive comment on that page remarks, the first blog was written by none other than Tim Berners-Lee.

This makes the recent posting of (Sir) Tim's first official blog entry deeply ironic. Of course, this is not lost on the man himself, and he gently points out that the first browser, called confusingly WorldWideWeb, was fully able to write as well as read Web pages. In other words, it was a blogging tool as much as a browser.

The otherwise amusing sight of Sir Tim re-joining something he'd invented a decade and a half ago is indicative of a rather more worrying fact: that the organisation he heads, the World Wide Web Consortium (which at least managed to snag one of the coolest URLs for its own), is almost unknown today outside the immediate circle of Webheads.

This shows how marginalised it has become, since originally it was set up to provide technical oversight of the Web's development. But it suffered badly during the browser wars, when both Netscape and Micosoft pretty much ignored, and went on adding non-standard elements to their browsers in an attempt to gain the upper hand. Indeed, it is only now, thanks largely to the rise of Firefox, that W3C standards are finally becoming not just widespread, but accepted as real standards.

Nonetheless, the W3C still has much work to do if it is to succeed in moving back to the centre of today's Web. As proof, consider that fact that a W3C document with a title as ell-embracing as "Architecture of the World Wide Web, Volume One" caused nary a ripple on the surface of the Great Cyberpond. Let's hope that Sir Tim's blog will help the sterling work of the W3C to reach a wider audience.

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