In 1841, a company called Mercantile Agency was formed to collect credit data on every firm in the country. Abraham Lincoln and three other future Presidents worked there. This company’s genius was to give every single business a unique identifier. Today, they are called DUNS numbers and they are maintained by Mercantile’s successor, Dun & Bradstreet. So, that’s how the WWW is organized, right? Well, no.
Unfortunately when “Hypertext” was developed in the 1970s as the basis for the World Wide Web, they decided on a different system. Instead of using unique identifiers to describe individual companies, they decided to give unique numbers to web locations where the data could be found. Converted to the parlance of shipping containers, this means that Google can find you any shipping container in the world and bring it to you. But it can’t tell you what’s actually inside the box until you get it home and open it up. Knowing where information is turns out to have no particular value. Sometimes, small decisions have huge consequences.