Web Is Transformational Technology for Sharing Knowledge
Web is still young, and will certainly hold surprises as it evolves, just as another well-known transformational technology held surprises ...
Just as the web first captured public imagination about 1994, the automobile first captured public imagination about 1903 when Henry Ford introduced his first mass produced car.
In the years that followed, Ford made very significant technological progress. Fourteen years later, in 1917, Ford offered electric lights, secure doors, a roof, and numerous improvements under the hood. We have now reached the fourteenth birthday of the web, and it, too, has evolved dramatically. We now have enormous content, better browsers, search engines, and databases on the web which can be federated.
And just as the 1917 Ford transformed lives, the 2008 web is transforming lives, too.
As we all know, Ford's technology was not static in 1917. The automobile continued to evolve, and indeed continues to evolve today. Similarly, web technology is anything but static. Changes are happening so fast that, while we can be pretty well assured that the web will continue to exist a few years from now, no one can reliably predict what it will be like. We are in the Model T era of the web where rapid change is to be expected. Current newspaper headlines point out that the internet, which makes the web possible, may itself become obsolete.
We may not be able to predict what the Web will look like in a few years, but we can learn lessons from history. Ford made the automobile more user-friendly, faster, easier to operate, and most importantly, Ford made the automobile ubiquitous. Just as Ford sensed the burden of transportation was an obstacle to human progress, we know that the burden of searching is an obstacle to science progress. Ford transformed the behavior of the traveling public. We at OSTI are transforming the behavior of the research scientist and science attentive citizen. We at OSTI are doing everything possible to make use of the evolving Internet to diffuse knowledge related to our agency mission.