Saturday, April 21, 2012

Thank You to the Resource, of Course

I have been building software systems and web systems for more than 17 years now. During that time, I have seen the web evolve, as we all have, from a poorly understood academic novelty with cryptic error messages about "Resource not found" to something that has completely revolutionized information sharing, and because of that, the world.

As developers, we had to progress through those early, foggy days, on through days when web servers we treated like souped up FTP servers, and into today when feeds and simple REST based services built upon, or aspiring toward, Roy Fielding's architectural principles behind the URI. Tim Berners Lee, the web's original inventor, is still a visionary, and his Linked Data initiative has percolated its way, at least conceptually, into all of our pockets as our phones constantly send small requests and consume data results to keep our apps and lives on track (or swerving off the highway).

Here is my tribute, with credit to Dan North who wrote something similar a while ago:

In the beginning there was the Resource
And it was good
But, misunderstood

Of course.

Then came files and extensions
And this brought much knowledge
Mostly to kids in college
Downloading and sharing things best left unmentioned.

Next came that simple search engine that did not require we select miles of criteria
Much more frugal, all it asked for was a phrase and a click
Then our screens filled with results oh-so-quick!
Days later I got email about my long-lost and newly deceased benefactor uncle in Nigeria.

He died again the next week, too.

Soon came flickr and Facebook
And whether we wanted to or not
No matter hot-or-not
Everyone sent us links saying "Come on, take a look!"

Then the dirt was washed away
And as the soap swirled down the drain
Our eyes opened to the vision from Roy's brain
TBL himself announced for TED: Urls, Links, and Data will save the day!

In the present there is the Resource
And we navigate to its Address
Now understood as the key to our Success

Of course.