In other words: standards are more important than features. The utility of the web comes from being open and interoperable.
That is interesting. The LHC basically triggered the WWW.
Good argument for your next discussion with the annoying "what is all this expensive research even good for" type of people. The LHC gave you Facebook and YP, dude!
I think experimental physics has plenty of its own utility, though it probably won't become relevant to engineering for decades.
My overall point is that you should account for the value of different components properly.
"The cost [...] has been evaluated, taking into account realistic labor prices in different countries. The total cost is X (with a western equivalent value of Y)" [where Y>X]
source: LHCb calorimeters : Technical Design Report
ISBN: 9290831693 http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/494264
Long PR story short: RPC was prevalent, that is how you control(led) your stuff remotely. Like Tim. Today, if you'd ask for a NeXT-like toy, you'd be denied were you an average Eastern. But western equivalent asked for it and got one, and put the gopher link address ptr in the reserved field of the text font properties (where things like bold and italics properties are stored) and voilà. You can also hire a cheap student to actually write the web client to be cross platform (its true virtue/value). Thanks to Nicola Pellow, of whom almost nobody knows about. Would the "web" have just run on NeXT, it would be long extinct, let alone take off.
On linking and hypertext: all post-war era stuff is spin. The real stuff comes from Belgium:
For ADD-ers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwRN5m64I7Y
The story: http://www.archive.org/details/paulotlet
"How should we make it attractive for them [young people] to spend 5,6,7 years in our field, be satisfied, learn about excitement, but finally be qualified to find other possibilities?" -- H. Schopper
The answer is a nice PR story on the web --
The World Wide Web was preceded by Project Xanadu  which, despite a decade of significant investments from both research institutions and private companies like Autodesk, never reached a stable state where it could be actually used for something by people outside the project's inner circle. The WWW got there just a few years after it started.
Tech people often forget that for many global scale projects, the actual /technical/ problems to solve are only about 5% of the overall project. The political problems (political meaning conflicting interests of different parties involved) are much harder to solve.
Having studied both, I love tech because 1+1=2 always. I find politics much harder because --depending on the way you present a problem-- 1+1 maybe anything between 1 and 3, and sometimes even 20.
What we don't ever see are the absurdly optimistic justifications for really bad ideas. Cuecat? Iridium satellites? The supposed future ubiquity if the Segway? We only know about the flops which because big enough (or were hyped enough) to have gotten publicity. Have you ever seen the abysmal nature of business plans in a local business plan competition?
I almost included Webvan, but I'm not sure that it was an inherently bad idea -- just one which required high adoption levels to achieve positive cash flow. And, I didn't include things like pets.com which I suspect (without justification) were known by their inventors as bad-but-flip-able ideas.
It is probably my geekiest wearable item, other than maybe my magnifying soldering glasses.