Although modern technology keeps moving forward at breakneck speed, there are still plenty of legacy solutions and symbols that are resilient enough to stand the test of time. Like digital equivalents of living fossils, they have managed to survive the disruptive effect of technological innovation and still thrive in highly modern IT-environments.
In this series, we will take a closer look at some legacy icons that are still present in our modern times. In this article we will focus on web pages. Although there is no paper involved, the name still refers to the contents of a physical and touchable book.
Key to success
Have you ever wondered how we evolved from fairly primitive, knuckle-dragging primates into the technological beings of today? Well, books played an important role in this remarkable transition. They allowed us to write down, store and pass on information on an unprecedented scale and in a mass-marketable format. Although the first written documents (clay tablets, scrolls) already existed as early as 500 BC, the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1439 made books available for the masses and fueled the first global information revolution.
The world wide web and the second information revolution
The invention of the world wide web by British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 created even more possibilities for information sharing. The first real web page went online on 6 August 1991. For years later, less than one percent of the global population had access to the internet. Compared that to today’s world, in which web access has become one of the chief necessities of life for a large part of the global community.
Pages of a virtual book
Although the internet is a virtual and completely paperless medium, we still refer to the contents of a website as pages. Every web page of a site is a file that provides the user with specific information, just like a page in a physical book does. Just like books and pages, websites and web pages rely on a unidirectional communication model. They present information but don’t allow users to give their opinions.
Democratization of information
The immense number of web pages on the modern web has spawned the democratization of information. Sometimes this is a good thing, but not always. Since there are millions of users with just as many opinions, interests and knowledge levels, the web has become a hotbed for wild conspiracy theories, varying from the world domination of alien reptiles disguised as politicians to governments that used corona to deliberately kill off a significant portion of their population to facilitate the “great reset”.