The Web Browser as a NeoVictorian Computing Triumph

I had a minor realization today about what Mark Bernstein was talking about in his blog posts about NeoVictorian Computing (which I mentioned earlier).  I had emotionally connected to what he was saying about how the software industry should return to an ethos of craft and artisanship, and how software should not try to hide its joints or its materials, but rather be constructed honestly and display its structure.  I got it, kind of, but the ideas remained abstract for me.

But I realized today that in fact the web browser, now so ubiquitous, is in its own way very much of a kind with his ideas.  Sure, browsers now are built by large teams, but the original Mosaic browser was designed and implemented by a few talented people at NCSA. And though browsers have gained a lot of functionality and efficiency through years of revision, they still retain the essential form of the original.  The exposed URLs in the location bar giving evidence of the network protocols and spaces between the loaded documents. That simplicity and willingness to make the user meet the technology head on is part of what has made the browser such a success as a technology.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *