Few people in this world can point to a decision they made at some point in the past and say with absolute certainty that if they’d taken a different route, it would have changed the world. Marc Andreessen is one of those people. As the co-founder of Netscape, Andreessen made an entirely rational decision to drop a feature that would mean they could ship a working product much faster. However, the result is that he’s spent a lot of time wondering how things would have turned out if the feature had stayed the course.
The feature in question is annotation – the ability to layer knowledge on web pages. Much of the information on the internet is in a read-only format, which doesn’t allow us to interact with it in the same way that readers and researchers have for centuries, writing notes in the margins of printed publications. It wasn’t intended to be like that.