Yeah mistakes do happen!! And most of you must have heard the phrase that “a person who says I have never committed a mistake, has actually not done much”. This is valid to be said the least. We many times also assume that the mistakes that are committed by the successful people are committed by them in their failed attempts to do something. Yeah! That is true to a large extent, but then it can well be the case that these successful people might also commit a mistake, big or small, in the most successful or magnificent thing that they have ever done. And that doesn’t take anything away from them. Only what I want to emphasize is you do not need to be flawless to succeed.
Why am I talking about mistakes all of a sudden? Okay guess what is being one of the most wonderful and significant invention in our time. Hint, it changed the world in such a manner that it would never be the same again. Another hint, it redefined the way we communicate, the way we store information, the way we travel etc. You can say that it has changed a lot many things to ways it never used to be. And the list is endless. If someone guessed telephone or computer or mobile phones, I would say, well tried. But the thing I am talking about is the “Internet”. And the person, Timothy Berners-Lee, who is responsible for the invention of World Wide Web i.e. the famous triple w, made a fascinating revelation and confessed about a mistake that he committed. People who follow the news might already guess what I am talking about.
He was speaking on the future of technology at a symposium organised by Finland’s Technology Academy Foundation, and hosted in the Finnish Embassy in Washington DC. He said “When I designed the URL, this thing which starts http:// , the slash was to indicate we’re actually starting at the top, not starting down at the next slash. Really, if you think about it, it doesn’t need the // . I could have designed it not to have the // . Boy, now people on the radio are calling it ‘backslash backslash’.” In simple terms what it means is that according to the inventor of “www” the “//” is not at all required. It came in due to a small mistake. Check this video for further details.
Yeah a small mistake but it did have big implications and that is also what Tim referred to during the interview. And he is correct in his assessment. Imagine the number of man-hours being wasted while typing those unnecessary “//” given that those might have been used gadzillion times by people. Going forward you might say what an useless waste of my effort, every time you type the two slashes. Then imagine the kind of resources that were being wasted while printing those unnecessary twins. And since we talked about printing imagine the amount of papers being wasted and the amount of trees that have been brought down. And if we can extend the thought a little bit more we can also say that imagine the kind of impact the cutting down of those trees might have in the global warming scenario. So, can we change it now. I am not sure of that, but even if we change it, it is going to have a huge impact given the kind or magnitude of change we are looking at.
Well all said and done it would be too harsh to curse Tim for this mistake and its implication. After all the internet is a gift to mankind in more ways than one and it has radically changed the way we do things. May be we can take it in our stride as the “cost that we pay for www” after all nothing is free in this world. And as we said in the beginning, don’t be shy of trying things because of the fear of committing mistakes, as you saw sometimes the biggest wonders hide some really silly mistakes within them.