Understanding Mashup Patterns
- Collaborators welcome!1
When the World Wide Web was first unveiled, "collaborators" referred to one small segment of the population: nerds.2 The first browser ran on a computer that almost no one outside of a university or research lab used.3 The Web itself consisted of a lone site4 (WWW Growth, Figure 1.1). Yet from this singularity, a new universe would soon emerge.
Figure 1.1 The growth of the World Wide Web: number of Web sites, 1990–2000
The amount of content didn't grow much until two years later. That was when the first of several "Big Bangs" would occur. In 1993, the first PC-based program capable of browsing the Web was released.5 Its introduction instantly put the Web within the reach of a far larger audience. Even so, Internet connectivity remained largely restricted to universities, research institutes, and corporations. Consumers enjoyed online communities, but generally did so via prepackaged, fenced-in services such as Compuserve, Prodigy, and America Online (AOL). Connectivity was achieved through slow "dial-up" connections over telephone lines. Access to content was typically billed at an hourly rate.
By 1994, the first independent Internet service providers (ISPs) had begun to pop up. By installing special software on their computers, consumers could access the entire content of the Web (almost 1,000 sites!). AOL began to open up Web access for its millions of subscribers. Prices universally moved to flat-rate monthly charges. WYSIWYG ("What you see is what you get") HTML editors appeared and made creating Web pages just a bit easier. In response, the second explosion in Web growth occurred. By 1996, corporations didn't see a Web presence as a luxury, but rather as a necessity. What better way to instantly push content to the consumer? The Web was viewed as a new media channel that offered endless opportunities for commercial success.
If the waning years of the past century had a motto, it certainly wasn't "Collaborators welcome"; "Venture capital welcome" is probably more accurate. Fueled by ill-conceived business plans and wild speculation, a worldwide expansion of the Web's underlying infrastructure took place. Meanwhile, the browser jumped from home computers to cell phones and mobile devices for the first time. High-speed cable and DSL "broadband" connectivity options became ubiquitous. The third explosion was the popping of the Web bubble, which saw these ventures implode en masse when they failed to turn a profit. This event marked the end of the first wave of the Web's evolution, which in hindsight we label Web 1.0.