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Re: HI. Wow. Thanks. [this version OK for publishing]

"Ray Ozzie"<ray@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

>Hello, Ted.  Thanks for the reply.
>It's interesting to hear that Xanadu is starting over.  Presumably you're
>starting with the Internet and distributed computing as a new technology

Wow, indeed. Tell us more.

>When the Web came along, we were very excited indeed!
>I wondered if broad
>application of these concepts would finally produce a world-wide
>collaboration network of thinking minds.  I surely hoped so!
>But, disappointingly, it hasn't.

I disagree. At length. I'll give you a short version below.

>Instead, the Web has turned out to be a medium that is clearly skewed
>toward the broadcasting metaphor of "readers" and "publishers," most always
>having identifiable information "providers" and "consumers."  Due to the
>fact that the this metaphor was established very early on, and was
>supported by weak technology (no user identification & authentication, no
>authoring/editing environment, no document database or any organizational
>metaphor to speak of, and the name "browser" itself!) people got used to
>the environment as a static environment.  And there it sits.
>Even for all its glory and tremendous utility and value, it stagnates from
>the perspective of effective collaboration.  Is there hope?
>I'm not so sure.  The first problem is that, in my belief, nothing
>successful can ever escape its original base usage metaphor.  Won't the
>browser always be viewed as a browser, regardless of how many new features
>you pack into it?  I surely won't change my view of television, even if
>every c.2001 TV powers up with the Windows splash screen and has an air
>mouse.  And I surely won't change my already-internalized view of the PC,
>even when it can serve as a high-definition TV.  Metaphors stick.

Except when made part of a more powerful metaphor. Consider early movies,
which were dominated by stage conventions, until Griffiths, not knowing any
better, invented the pan, the zoom, the dolly, the close-up, etc.

The Web does tend to be publisher-oriented, but it is hardly static. It
doesn't support transclusion and transcopyright, so it can't be expected to
grow up into Xanadu by itself. A little more invention is needed. I've
storted talking the the Uniform Resource Identifier mailing list of the
IETF--a collaborative text adventure if ever there was one--about a URL
scheme suitable for our needs.

>Furthermore, I sometimes wonder if effective collaboration was too
>aggressive a goal for such a global communications environment.  In
>general, because not all people envision themselves as "thinkers" or
>"philosophers," not all people will choose to be "contributors."  It's just
>human nature.  Sure, we're social animals, but perhaps life has become so
>complicated that people just want and need relaxation.  Contribution draws
>risks and challenges.  Perhaps if the Web metaphors had been more
>read/write to begin with, it wouldn't have taken off as swiftly and
>smoothly as it did ..?  Maybe a truly effective collaboration network can
>only exist in closed environments, e.g. a corporation, a special interest
>group, etc.  Maybe people only feel safe identifying themselves in closed
>groups, lurking anonymously elsewhere.

You make some good points here. I have found the most effective
collaborative environment on the Net to be the closed mailing list. Usenet
can be very effective for public discussion if you know how to trace the
migration of threads between groups, using AltaVista or DejaNews.

I have a rather heavily indexed and cross-linked archive of an anti-spam
mailing list that I got started early this year (see sig if curious), which
is not entirely satisfactory for searching, but maintains most of the links
and cross-quotations of our original discussion. It is of course not
available to you for research, but we could find a multitude of open groups
that would be suitable subjects.

>If there is hope, however, it is that "The Internet" is not the same thing
>as "The Web."  New tools, new metaphors.

Yes. I have been designing an integrated book/Web site/CD-ROM/MOO using
Xanadu principles, which is why I'm waiting for news of implementations on
this list.

>Anyway, I'm just rambling.  Hope that things are going well for you in your
>new attempt, and that you've found a stimulating environment in which to
>explore your ideas...

I appreciate Ted's work, but he reminds me of Charles Babbage, always
having a better idea and never getting anything to market. I would rather
publish my project this year imperfectly but far better than the
alternatives than wait for perfection. It has been over 100 years since the
invention of the automobile and the electric light and the telephone
and...none of them has been perfected.

Edward Cherlin       Help outlaw Spam     Everything should be made
Vice President     http://www.cauce.org      as simple as possible,
NewbieNet, Inc.  1000 members and counting      __but no simpler__.
http://www.newbie.net/    17 May 97   Attributed to Albert Einstein