Imagine for a moment that Tim Berners-Lee had been a complete moron. Imagine he had taken the single most important innovation of the web, namely the URL, and split in two parts. One part being the server address
and the other part being the path.
Now imagine that the server part would have been part of the browser configuration -- so that the web browser knows about a small but configurable set of web servers. Web page adresses would simply be paths, which when combined with the browser configuration would form what we today know as an URL.
But of course, unlike the URL it would only exist in the browser after combining the browser configuration and the page address (the path) in question.
Next, imagine that any path given to the browser is blindly probed by the browser until it hits a server that actually has the page you refer to. So for the page /my/page.html you would have a probing sequence of this type:
Not the brightest resolution scheme there is, right? In light of how the web we know and love works, this seems like a pretty stupid idea today. What if /my/page.html exists in mutiple of these servers? What if there were millions of servers and we would have to wait for the browser to resolve the page by asking about half of them before scoring a hit?
(Don't laugh yet; At the time I set up my first web server there were about 50 well known web servers in the world so this isn't that far fetched. If you account for the existence of unimaginative people, that is.)
To mitigate some of the pain of downloading large pages you introduce a cache locally on your machine. A caching layer that doesn't really differentiate between pages that you have stuffed into the cache locally and pages you have downloaded from one of the servers. Or, in practice, differentiate between which pages were downloaded from which server.
You might think that nobody would be stupid enough to come up with a lame scheme like that. Especially not in a post-web world.
Well, you can stop laughing. Someone has come up with a scheme like that for a similar problem. In post-web times. It is called "Apache Maven" and it is used for dealing with software artifacts. So the next time you come across some developer stating that Maven is a great solution for sorting out software dependencies you have my permission to point and laugh. Even if it is usually socially unacceptable to poke fun at the intellectually challenged.
Maven was well intended, but designed and implemented by people who were The Wrong Stuff.