Alex Wright's presentation in the Google Tech Talks (23rd October 2007) will take about an hour of your time, but it will be an interesting hour.
From the abstract: "It's almost impossible to imagine a world without browsers, URLs and HTTP. But in the years leading up to Tim Berners-Lee's world-changing invention, a few visionary information scientists were exploring alternative systems that often bore little resemblance to the Web as we know it today."
One of the questions that was asked at the end was prefaced by a statement that the brute force Google search was seen as a failure in the development of the web. The response included the idea that a lot of thinking about controlled vocabularies is being left by the wayside.
The Web That Wasn't via Youtube