This is insane.
At the time the web came into being, AOL was already offering a content-driven text and graphics medium. And Microsoft was hard at work making “Blackbird”, which was a content authoring technology for MSN that never saw the light of day because of HTML. Microsoft ditched it and launched MSN over PPP and HTTP, and embarrassed AOL by showing them the future.
Also, network administrators are not technophobic reactionaries. They are professionals with conflicting responsibilities. Like all professionals, they do what they have to do to get the job done. Sometimes it is appropriate to filter something in order to maintain the breathing room for the network to do the job. In the early 90’s, filtering technologies certainly existed that could have killed off the web, but there was a critical mass of academic networks, and under-critical-mass of commercial ISPs. The academics were interested in seeing what new things were coming. The commercial ISPs were split between common carriers like UUnet, and walled gardens. As I already mentioned, the walled gardens had their own content technologies and wanted to move past the limitations of Gopher. The common carriers didn’t care what went over the network, as long as it drove demand for the network itself.
As an example, ask yourself why UUnet was the largest purveyor of copyright infringements and porn (and copyright-infringing-porn, probably) back in those days. UUnet carried all the newsgroups unfiltered. Why? It was good business to offer content.
Who started this idiotic Gopher meme? If someone knows, could you please give them my blog’s address so I can wack them with a clue-by-four? Thanks.