Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Recipe for success, part I

The Web is used by a billion people, consists of over ten billion pages and has been used to create many hundreds of billions of dollars in wealth. How did it become so successful?

The answer sounds simple: the Web was the right platform at the right time. The exponential rate of adoption can be attributed to six factors:

  1. Relevant paradigm.

    The success of the Web is the success of the client/server paradigm. Client/server is simple: both HTTP client and HTTP server are relatively easy to implement. Client/server puts all the burden of scalability on the operators of the server, who are normally in a position to cope with it. Most notably, client/server was a good match for the topology of the Internet circa 1993: high-powered machines on high-speed links, low-powered machines on low-speed links.

  2. Fast and easy content authoring.

    The only tool you need to start creating Web content is a text editor. Ability to "View source" allows users to learn HTML without looking at documentation. The Web browser never refuses to display a page—if you make a mistake, it is automatically corrected most of the time. Learning HTML can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience since the language makes creating good looking multimedia documents very easy.

  3. Ease of content distribution.

    You don't have to get permission from anyone to join the Web. In the early days, you could just compile and run CERN httpd—you didn't even need to have your own machine or ask your administrator since you could run the server on an unprivileged port. Today, even non-technical users can quickly gain access to the Web for publishing content. There is no barrier to the exponential growth of the content distribution network.

  4. Superlinear utility.

    The network effect of the Web is remarkable. With a simple tag, you can link to—and build upon—information contributed by anyone worldwide. Each new webpage can be both the source of the links and the target of the links, adding connections that make existing content more valuable.

  5. Interoperability.

    If you had to only pick one network client, you would choose a Web browser that has built-in support for other protocols such as FTP. Uniform Resource Locators make all Internet resources addressable from HTML, providing seed content that accelerates and sustains growth of the Web.

  6. Optimal use of computing resources.

    The Web exploded at the time when the networks became fast enough to transmit images, and the general-purpose computers good enough to display them: this is no coincidence. By exploiting timely technological advances the Web captured popular imagination.

Is it possible to use the same recipe to popularize a new platform? (to be continued...)


Blogger jonny-no-stars said...


Those who deign to know strategy and promulgate their theories (ought to) know that it is a case of " right time, right place" and the sense of those watching to take opportunity of that which comprises the same.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Grit7 said...

I agree with Johnny, the chances of another platform becoming worldwide is very rare since it was the beginning of technology creators took the chance and timed it with much cunning.

5:56 PM  
Blogger jrp said...

The Mail Man,

Why do you assume I didn't time the creation of this blog with much cunning?

6:27 PM  
Blogger XXX said...

The Internet is the "killer app" that Bill Gates was looking for to drive sales of PC's running Windows.

Lucky for us, M$ doesn't own the Net, or they'd be charging big dollars to use it.

2:11 AM  

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