The web shares content like no other network has, making it easy to publish content of many kinds to a URL so visitors can find it immediately. Content and software distribution has never been so smooth.
(bubbly electronic music) - The web for me and just like, the ability to connect pieces and people has, I think, always been one of the best things about it. - Whether it's somebody sharing something somebody post a photo on Tumblr, it's instantly shared to somewhere else like Facebook and people laugh at a cat. It's this ability to share rapidly.
It is incredible. - The idea behind what Tim had done was essentially anybody can publish information on the web. All you have to do is run a little bit of server code and then you get this magic thing called a hyperlink with the URL that refers to your machine and tells people how to get it and then you can hyperlink to other information too. - For the hypertext things to work, you have to be able to link to anything. And so to be able to link to anything, that means you have to put anything on the web. So the system had to be really designed to work without putting any constraints to on what sort of things should go on there.
- You have this discoverability, this instant discoverability, right? If I tell you a URL, you can type that into your browser and you're immediately having an experience, right, that is mediated by whatever web application sits at the end of that URL and that's the interesting thing about the web. - The hardest thing in all of software is distribution. And the genius of the web isn't anything to do with Java script or HTML.
It's about reducing the friction to distribution. It's about the fact that any link can take me anywhere. It's blue, it's underlined, I can go there. That's something that no other platform has. - On my way here, I was standing in line, waiting to go through TSA security and the monitor above me was touting, "Get the TSA app. Get the TSA app so that you can find out what you can bring through and whether there's any flight delays," et cetera. So my option is to go to an app store, find that app, download it, wait for it to download over either the LT network I was on or the airport's wifi, right? Hopefully get that down and then launch it so I can use it once and then forget that I have it and trip over it as I'm searching for other apps.
- We live, right now, in a world of very focused micro-mobile apps. And to some extent that's great because you get these very targeted user experiences that are designed for very specific needs and use cases. But on the flip side, at some point, you're going to become unsustainable. - One of the traps that people fall into is to think, "I will make a mobile app for my magazine because it'll be easier to make it interactive.
It'll be interactual, it'll be faster because I'll be able to actually program. The thing has an app on the device. But because the thing is a magazine, it's really important that it's part of the web. If you make it part of an app, it doesn't have URLS so you can't point to it. If you can't have a URL for something then you can't blog about it, you can't tweet about it, you can't like it, you can't dislike it, it's not part of the discourse. - Part of this shift in how applications are constructed and how power is distributed with them has been that now we have gate keepers who feel as though it's their job to keep users safe but at the same time, whatever good intentions they might have, also find themselves in the business of deciding whether or not something is good.
- Nobody owns the URL. No one organization can tell you you can or can not have a URL. If you have a URL, as a business or as an individual or as an organization, to a certain degree, that is your URL, you can put whatever you want behind that URL and that's part of the power of the web. - In an app store, there's this intermediary that has to evaluate each contribution, each app, before it can be put up there for you to download and use.
Imagine if you were publishing a website and you had to, every time you published it or made any change, submit it to some authority and then wait days, potentially, for that change to go through and they could reject it for any reason; we wouldn't have the web that we have today. - The web, if I want to publish something, I publish it. And when you've got gated app communities or organizations that have to vet what you're putting out there, that means that you're having them vet what you put out there.
And that's not always manifest in a way that's particularly bad but it has the potential to be that way. There's that, it's just asking for permission every time you want to do something whereas getting something on the web, you just do it.
In the film, Matt Griffin knits together a narrative from dozens of conversations with important figures from throughout the web's history. He interviews Tim Berners-Lee, Denise Jacobs, Jeffrey Zeldman, Ethan Marcotte, Chris Wilson, Lyza Danger Gardner, Eric Meyer, Irene Au, Alex Russell, Trent Walton, Val Head, Jonathan Snook, and many more. The result is a series of unique insights about why the web is structured the way it is, why standards matter, how mobile disrupted everything, and why the web isn't done growing.