Rewriting History?

I was disappointed that I missed a chance to hear Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web (previously discussed on Doombot here), speak at Tufts yesterday, but as slight consolation I did read this interview with him last week. A couple of points jumped out at me.

[BCS:] Looking back on 15 years or so of development of the Web is there anything you would do differently given the chance?

[Berners-Lee:] I would have skipped on the double slash – there’s no need for it. Also I would have put the domain name in the reverse order – in order of size so, for example, the BCS address would read: http:uk/org/bcs/members. This would mean the BCS could have one server for the whole site or have one specific to members and the URL wouldn’t have to be different.

It’s a little weird to try and parse that address in my head, but maybe it’s just because I’m so accustomed to seeing it the way it is now. Certainly the URL system is not the most user-friendly one out there, but it’s such an ingrained part of our lives now that I wonder if and how it’ll evolve from here (it already has changed in subtle ways…take something like the permalink of this post, which may look like an ordinary URL but, through the machinations of mod_rewrite, is in fact a reference to a database entry, prettified for your viewing experience.

Towards the end of the post, Berners-Lee (or Sir Tim, if you prefer) makes an offhand comment:

…we would have developed XML a lot sooner. A seminal discussion about changing SGML to XML actually happened during a hypertext conference, in a pub in Edinburgh. This May there’ll be discussions in pubs in Edinburgh again, where we can talk about what we’ll need to change now – it’ll be a blast.

Apparently I totally hang out in the wrong pubs.