Growth of the "GeoWeb"

Raj Singh writes this about growth of OGC services and standards:

I was over at Harvard yesterday talking to people from the GSD, the Herbarium, the Library, the new Center for Geographic Analysis, and MassGIS. It was great to see some old friends and make some new ones. One topic that came up was why you don’t see OGC standards in widespread usage. I argued that the geospatial Web is where the regular Web was in 1996, when the tech industry thought that HTML was so easy and powerful that everyone would build their own Web sites – not by writing HTML but by using tools like Dreamweaver. As it turns out, that was still way too high a barrier to entry. People didn’t want the hassle of designing a site from scratch. They wanted to post a blog entry or a MySpace page. That’s when the Web saw a real quantum leap in content.

In 1995, the number of web sites increased from about 10,000 to about 100,000. By the end of 1996, there were about 600,000 web sites. If there are this many WxS servers out there, and the number is growing at such a rate, I'm just not seeing it. My own take is that the WxS-based "GeoWeb" is more like Gopher circa 1993, before the advent of the Web: useful, technically adequate for many purposes, but ultimately just an experiment in web-building. There are design defects in OGC protocols (which use HTTP while keeping it at arm's length) that Raj does not acknowledge here: it's not just a matter of making better geo-editors. WxS was a worthy experiment, but ultimately not the way forward. The explosive growth that Raj is looking forward to is going to happen instead on the new axis of KML (with GML) and HTTP.