Page Not Found: A Brief History of the 404 Error

Posted in: Miscellaneous at 05/12/2017 14:57

The notorious 404 error, “Not Found,” is often, not totally erroneously, referred to as “the last page of the internet.” It’s an obligatory heads-up with an outsize reputation; it is a meme and a punch line. Bad puns abound. The error has been printed in comics and on T-shirts, an accessible and relatable facet of what was once relegated to nerd humor and is now a fact of digital life.

That the 404 should have crossover appeal seems fitting. It is near-universal and inherently emotional: pure disappointment, the announcement of an unanticipated problem. It’s also a reminder that technology, and the web in particular, is made by humans, and therefore fallible. The internet, after all, is hardly a well-oiled machine; it’s more like a version of The Garden of Earthly Delights built by unidirectional hypertext and populated by broken links, corrupted image files, and incomplete information.
https://www.wired.com/story/page-not-found-a-brief-history-of-the-404-error/

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