Alternate History – Could the web have been easier to maintain?

Recently, I recorded an interesting conversation with Adrian McEwen. Adrian is co-founder of DoES Liverpool. Back in 1996, Adrian joined STNC and worked on early mobile browser technology. This was the HitchHiker framework which appears at the top of the timeline of web browsers included below. STNC was eventually acquired by Microsoft.

STNC HitchHiker browser running on a prototype TTPcom GSM mobile phone
The First Web Browser on a Mobile Phone

STNC HitchHiker browser running on a prototype TTPcom GSM mobile phone.
By permission of @amcewen

Adrian explains how during his time at STNC, personal digital assistants (PDA) and GSM merged to create smartphones and how features evolved from text messaging to mobile browsers.

We then ran through a quick history of the World Wide Web and web browsers. We talked about the challenges of maintaining the web and pondered an alternate history.

Could the web have been easier to maintain? We share our thoughts on what might have been if the development of early browser engines had been an open collaborative endeavour.

We then look forward and consider if there is a risk history is about to repeat itself with conversational user interfaces, smart speakers and virtual assistants.



CC BY-SA 3.0 ADeveria Timeline representing the development of various web browsers

Adrian McEwen


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