Weekly Musings 121

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

Have I been getting a bit wistful for the past of late? A few people, half jokingly, said I have. They might be right. But I think I've been pondering not a supposedly simpler time, but the core of the ideas of simplicity and minimalism themselves through the filter of the past. I've been doing that in all aspects of my life, including the digital. Which has provided fuel for the musing you're about to read (and for an idea for another one that's rattling around in my skull).

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's musing.

On NSCA Mosaic

Lately, something called the smallnet has been taking over a chunk of my thinking. As part of the process of pondering that idea, I've also been involved in some fairly detailed discussions around the concept of the smallnet with a friend or two.

The idea underpinning the smallnet seems like an almost nostalgic yearning for the web some of us first started using back in the 1990s, a web we used to know and love. As one of the friends I've been discussing this topic with pointed out:

[T]he smallnet reminds me of what the web felt like in its earlier days, and I'm reminded of what I felt like during that time.

That turned my mind and my memory to one of the pillars of that early web, at least for the ordinary person. At least, for me. That pillar? A piece of software called NCSA Mosaic which was, in many ways, the web's first killer app.

If you weren't around in the heady days of the online world of the early 1990s, when the web, and the internet, wasn't on everyone's computers, chances are you might not know or understand the significance of Mosaic. It was the brainchild of a team at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA for short) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. That team included a pair of young programmers named Marc Andressen and Eric Bina, who were inspired by an earlier web browser which they thought they could improve upon. Those efforts resulted in Mosaic, which was released to the world in early 1993.

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