Our conference series started less than two years ago when Robert Cailliau took the initiative of organizing the first conference in Geneva (May 1994) at CERN, the birthplace of the Web. The second conference came along very rapidly. It was held in Chicago (October 1994) under the responsibilities of Joseph Hardin, from NCSA and Ira Goldstein, from the OSF Research Institute. During the closing session of the Chicago conference, Ira announced the birth of the International World-Wide Web Conference Committee (IW3C2) together with the schedule of the next three conferences. Since then, the torch has gone to Darmstadt where Detlef Kroemker, from the Fraunhofer Institute chaired WWW3, in April 1995. Last December, Al Vezza, from MIT and Ira Goldstein, from OSF-RI co-chaired WWW4, in Boston.
It is a great honor as well as a thrilling challenge to host WWW5 in Paris before handing the baton to Stanford University who will organize WWW6 in Santa Clara, in Spring 1997.
Trying to summarize the goals we had in mind while putting together WWW5, I would like to address three questions:
According to Tim Berners-Lee, its inventor: "The World-Wide Web is the universe of network-accessible information". What does it mean to organize a conference on a topic that has such a universal goal?
The exponential growth of the Web measurement indices, is yet another challenge for the conference organizers. How can one forecast the size of the upcoming event?
Finally, does it make any sense to gather people from all over the world when they can now communicate so easily while staying in their offices or in their homes?
In other words, we are strong supporters of the idea that, as revolutionizing as the Web is, it will not replace other ways of communication. It will provide new opportunities for world-wide collaboration and therefore increase the need for people to get together when it is appropriate.
Organizing a large variety of events, coping with the growth of the Web and welcoming people from all over the world has required long and dedicated efforts from numerous contributors. My warm thanks to all of them.
As we are approaching the opening of the conference, I recall the joyful applause that welcomed its announcement in Chicago as the audience was looking forward to come to Paris in May. I hope that your memories will associate the colours of our capital in the Spring with the fruitful contents of WWW5.
Dr. Jean-François Abramatic