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A Companion to New Media Dynamics by Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, John Hartley

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Chapter 29

From Homepages to Network Profiles

Balancing Personal and Social Identity

Axel Bruns

The World Wide Web constitutes one of the most important inventions of the late twentieth century: it has changed culture, society, business, communication, politics, and many other fields of human endeavor, not least also by providing a more user-friendly pathway of access to its major underlying technology, the Internet itself. Key phases in its development can be charted, especially by how it has been used to present and share information—and here, the personal or professional, private or official homepage stands in as a useful representation of wider web trends overall. From hand-coded beginnings through several successive stages of experimentation and standardization to the shifting balance between personal sites and social networks, the homepage demonstrates how the web itself, and its place in our lives, has changed.

Phase 1: The First Homepages

To a significant extent, the history of the World Wide Web is also a history of the homepage. The first web pages, made available in 1990, necessarily were homepages—for the web itself, for the nuclear research center CERN where it was invented, and for key figures in its early history, including inventor Tim Berners-Lee (2000). Hand-crafted in rudimentary hypertext markup language (HTML), these early pages drew on their authors' experience with previous technologies—such as the online information retrieval protocol Gopher, which provided ...

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