Web History Events: 10 Year Anniversary

In 1997, the Web History Day and Exhibit was one of the most popular programs of the 6th International World Wide Web Conference (WWW6) in Santa Clara, California. This year, ten years after the original event, at the 16th Web Conference (WWW2007) in Banff, Canada, a reprise of this program will occur.  The conference will host multiple Web History-related events and a weeklong Web History Exhibit area for the benefit of conference attendees and where attending pioneers can donate historical materials and add recollections.

The 1997 event brought together many of the major pioneers of the early Web and hypermedia for the very first time, from Douglas Engelbart, Tim Berners-Lee, Brewster Kahle and Ted Nelson to authors of early browsers – Viola, Mosaic, Netscape, Cello, Internet Explorer, Midas and more (http://1997.webhistory.org/historyday). The hands on exhibit featured pioneering software and sites, from the first browser/editor running on its original NeXt cube to the White House site and HotWired. The program was co-organized by Web pioneer Kevin Hughes and Web historian Marc Weber with help from pioneer Jean-François Groff, at the invitation of conference organizer Bebo White.

At WWW2007, the Web History events will focus on the history of E-Commerce, with speakers from Marty Tenenbaum of CommerceNet to blogger Robert Scoble. Featured also will be a history of the conference series which began in 1994 at CERN. It will also bring attendees together with leaders of the museum and archiving communities, who are becoming increasingly convinced of the importance of collecting artifacts from the early days of the Web and documenting the historical evolution of Web technology. The preliminary event program can be seen at  http://www2007.org/webhistory.php.

The organizers of this year’s Web History Day include many of the same persons involved with the original program—Marc Weber, Bebo White, Kevin Hughes, and Jean-François Groff– with some additions.  In the past year Marc Weber and Bill Pickett have co-founded The Web History Center, www.webhistory.org, which has absorbed Weber and Hughes’s older Web History Project and adds key pioneers like Robert Cailliau and Marty Tenenbaum to its Advisory Board.

You are invited to look at the Web History Center Web site. The Center’s goal is to attract attention to the need to save records and memories of the origins and development of the Web, and to put individuals and organizations that have such materials in contact with archives and museums (twelve such institutions have joined as members of the Center) who are interested in preserving and making these materials available to researchers and educators.

Concurrently, the Center is creating a digital library that will ultimately become a definitive resource on the history of the Web. This library will allow anyone with an Internet connection (students, researchers, entrepreneurs) to view original documents, videos, and images.
The Center is working with Bebo White to bring together and find an archival home for the records of the International World Wide Web Conference Committee (IW3C2).  The history of the Web Conference series closely parallels the evolution of Web technology and the activities of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). White is a member of the Web History Center’s Advisory Board and serves as liaison with the IW3C2 and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), home of the first Web site in the United States.  Anyone having materials relevant to any of the above categories are invited to contact White, Weber, or Pickett.

For the Web History event at WWW2007, we are especially interested in items from past conferences that can be included in the exhibit—the original sites, posters, T-shirts, pins, badges, printed collateral, and more. As a part of the conference program, the WHC is sponsoring a weeklong exhibit and hosting a light buffet reception on Tuesday night to open the event and introduce key speakers. Wednesday’s plenary address by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, co-organized by the WHC and WWW2007, will provide an opportunity for him to reflect on both past and future. Finally, all day Wednesday, the main Web History track will feature speakers on the history of E-Commerce, the conference series, and ways of preserving and making public the Web’s history—both past and ongoing. Please join us!