Monday, September 21st, 2020
Saturday, February 16th, 2019
Nine people came together at CERN for five days and made something amazing. I still can’t quite believe it.
Coming into this, I thought it was hugely ambitious to try to not only recreate the experience of using the first ever web browser (called WorldWideWeb, later Nexus), but to also try to document the historical context of the time. Now that it’s all done, I’m somewhat astounded that we managed to achieve both.
Want to see the final result? Here you go:
That’s the website we built. The call to action is hard to miss:
Behold! A simulation of using the first ever web browser, recreated inside your web browser.
Now you could try clicking around on the links on the opening doucment—remembering that you need to double-click on links to activate them—but you’ll quickly find that most of them don’t work. They’re long gone. So it’s probably going to be more fun to open a new page to use as your starting point. Here’s how you do that:
Documentfrom the menu options on the left.
- A new menu will pop open. Select
Open from full document reference.
- Type a URL, like, say
- Press that lovely chunky
You are now surfing the web through a decades-old interface. Double click on a link to open it. You’ll notice that it opens in a new window. You’ll also notice that there’s no way of seeing the current URL. Back then, the idea was that you would navigate primarily by clicking on links, creating your own “associative trails”, as first envisioned by Vannevar Bush.
But the WorldWideWeb application wasn’t just a browser. It was a Hypermedia Browser/Editor.
- From that
Documentmenu you opened, select
- Type the name of your file; something like
- Start editing the heading and the text.
- In the main
- Now focus the window with the document you opened earlier (adactio.com).
- With that window’s title bar in focus, choose
Mark allfrom the
- Go back to your
test.htmldocument, and highlight a piece of text.
- With that text highlighted, click on
Link to markedfrom the
If you want, you can even save the hypertext document you created. Under the
Document menu there’s an option to
Save a copy offline (this is the one place where the wording of the menu item isn’t exactly what was in the original WorldWideWeb application). Save the file so you can open it up in a text editor and see what the markup would’ve looked it.
I don’t know about you, but I find this utterly immersive and fascinating. Imagine what it must’ve been like to browse, create, and edit like this. Hypertext existed before the web, but it was confined to your local hard drive. Here, for the first time, you could create links across networks!
After five days time-travelling back thirty years, I have a new-found appreciation for what Tim Berners-Lee created. But equally, I’m in awe of what my friends created thirty years later.
Of course Mark wanted to make sure the font was as accurate as possible. He and Brian went down quite a rabbit hole, and with remote help from David Jonathan Ross, they ended up recreating entire families of fonts.
Through it all, Craig and Martin put together the accomanying website. Personally, I think the website is freaking awesome—it’s packed with fascinating information! Check out the family tree of browsers that Craig made.
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018
Sunday, January 14th, 2018
If only our digital social networks were to exhibit this kind of faded grandeur when they no longer exist.
Sunday, May 28th, 2017
Wednesday, July 6th, 2016
Monday, November 9th, 2009
Best. Domain name. Ever.
Thursday, January 31st, 2008
Brian shows some clever uses of the little-known :target pseudo-class.
Friday, June 9th, 2006
Among the many design fads prevelant in the trendiest designs (rounded corners, drop shadows and gradients, bloody gradients), there’s been a movement toward upside-down reflections of anything that can stand up: books, words, pictures, the kitchen sink.
I’m not 100% sure where this trend started but I know I’ve seen it on the Apple site for quite some time. It’s certainly present in their Front Row software. I suspect that they may have started the whole reflection design meme. I also suspect that this was a fiendish long-term plan of theirs.
See, I think they wanted us to associate reflective surfaces with feelings of coolness and trendiness. Why?
So that they could release the otherwise lovely MacBook laptops with shiny, reflective glass screens. “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!”
Sunday, March 26th, 2006
Danah Boyd writes an essay that would've been a blog post but it got too long.