What happened to the webmaster | Jay Hoffmann

A wonderful article about the early web, and how it evolved from a medium where one person could truly own an entire site into the behemoth that takes teams of people to wrangle that we know today. It also includes some great insights into the dot-com bubble, Flash, AWS (started in 2002!), Dreamweaver and more.

Tim Berners-Lee has gone on record and said that if not for that search box, and the SLAC website, the web may never have reached the critical mass it needed to break out.

The SLAC website allowed access to the SLAC database. It was a simple retrieval tool, but it made access to a prominent chuck of data universal, causing more academics to download a web browser just to access it. It also saved librarians (and primarly, Louise Addis, chief keeper of the SLAC database) a huge amount of time. Addis became their webmaster: she built the site (or at least parts of it) and curated the content. She was the go-to person if anything went wrong or anyone had questions, hence a webmaster (same root as postmaster).

Webmasters were generalists. Think general contractor or possible even full-stack developer. Able to do bits of most things and know where to turn for more specialised knowledge or help. Over time, that just simply became too little, and the role disappeared.

The website was no longer an extension of a business. It was the business.

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  • A wonderful article about the early web, and how it evolved from a medium where one person could truly own an entire site into the behemoth that takes teams of people to wrangle that we know today. […]
Murray Adcock.

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