No, I’m not talking about the Roberta Flack song you sometimes still hear on late-night radio. I’m talking about the first time I ever saw the Web.
It was in May of 1994, and I was finishing up my Master’s Degree in English at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I had spent the better part of the previous year learning as much as I could about the Internet as it then existed, and I had tried my hand at constructing a Gopher database for a professor who had compiled a list of bibliographic materials he wanted put on the ‘Net.
For those of you not old enough to remember, Gopher was a text-based information system developed at the University of Minnesota that was quite popular on the Internet prior to the explosion of the Web. Within my own text-based browser that first year, I could see a link to something called the “World Wide Web,” but every time I clicked on it, nothing happened.
Then one day, an engineering student in one of the composition classes I was teaching asked me if I had seen “Mosaic.” I’d never even heard of it, so he invited me to come over to a computer lab in the engineering building across campus sometime. The very next day, I took up his offer and joined him in the lab.