Just 25 years ago this month, a British computer scientist wrote a proposal spelling out an innovative notion that eventually evolved into the World Wide Web. At the time, the proposal was intended to help CERN, a European research organization, make internal communications more efficient. Even though the underpinnings of the idea for the World Wide Web were right there, “nobody at the time thought it was very important,” recalled Internet pioneer Paul Mockapetris.
What does this little history lesson have to do with government management? Everything. We first started covering state and local government around the same time as that Web memo was written. A few years later, we visited what was then called an online “forum” about government. A little more than a decade after that, the Web had become the most essential tool in our work—and increasingly that of state and local governments.