this is neither an official document in any respect nor should any statement be taken as a fact, this is just my personal opinion. reto ambühler, informatikdienste of the ETH zürich
the fourth World Wide Web conference (4WWW95) took place from december 11th to december 14th 1995 in boston, USA.
the copley place marriott hotel and the adjacent hynes convention center easily hosted the over 2000 attendees and provided every service one could ask for. the conference was very well organized. a total of approximately one hundred workstations, Macs and PCs provided access to the Internet. the equipment functioned well and the transfer speed was excellent.
when we arrived in boston on friday afternoon, the city greeted us with crystal blue sky. but on sunday, it started to snow and it was very cold. by tuesday, the charles river was frozen. but this could not stop us from doing some sightseeing: we visited the world famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T) and the Harvard University.
we, that is:
according to the printed list of attendees, there were 31 people from switzerland.
|pictures and impressions from boston at winter - a wonderful sight ...|
to me, the following are the key messages from this conference:
the conference was titled "the Web revolution". some people belief the invention of the World Wide Web will have a similar influence on mankind as johann gutenberg's invention of the movable type printing process more than 500 years ago. while some people belief, the Web will replace printed books and newspapers, i agree with those who think, printed books will not be replaced by electronic media. however, there are printed documents which can and shall be replaced by electronic documents, like the phone book, maybe time tables of trains and airplanes and other documents, which change often. newspaper and magazines are also documents with a very short lifetime, but since less the 0.5 percent of all human beeings have access to the Internet, there is indeed a need for other means of distribution of the latest news.
in my opinion, this was a very interesting conference, even though the developer's day was somewhat disappointing. i got some ideas where the Web might go in the near future. i guess we will see a lot of debates about the new standard of HTML, at the same time, i'm afraid the we will end up with various standards. this may lead to a similar situation as with the various UNIX operating system flavors we have to deal with today.
i also belief we will see more and more commercial applications on the Web. the security first network bank (SFNB) has already been established and many vendors offer "safe" Web servers and clients. authentication and privacy are the big issues now. some of them may be addressed by the new version of TCP/IP (V6), others by secure protocols, "smart cards" and so forth.
as far, as our local ETHZ Web is concerned, i think the following questions should be discussed:
there are tools available to check HTML documents. should we establish a service to check Web documents and what should be "our" standard ? HTML V2.0 ? HTML V2.0 plus tables ? the W3C's draft for HTML V3.0 ?
but the more important question might be: how do we handle "non standard" documents ? shall we ban them from our servers ? do we refuse to set up links to "non standard" documents ?
in my opinion, the simple days on the Web are over. it was easy to bring a few Web pages on-line in the beginning, because it was more or less a game. but the Web has become a serious business today. during the Web conference, the Web was on the front page of the "USA today" almost every day. one article was about how Web surfers cost the industry thousands of dollars every day because they browse the Web instead of doing their job. in addition, they use up the bandwidth of the network, which disturbs the colleagues who try to do their "real" job. this means, not everybody loves the Web and there are serious concerns about the Web. some organizations have already restricted the access to the Internet or are at least considering to set up such restrictions.
another fact that makes life more complicated on the Web are the various HTML extensions: not only that you need a particular browser to enjoy many of the pages out there, but it seems the appearance of the information has become more important than its contents, which i consider a tragedy ...
the following books are available at my office for anyone who is interested:
the 5th WWW conference will take place from may 6 to may 10 1996 in paris, france !