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Re: [xanadu] flecks ?????

> One area I've wrestled with is the Xanadu idea of royalties.  A central
> billing system is a threat to privacy.  Not keeping detailed records of
> what someone reads improves their privacy but also offends some people
> when the bill comes and they wish to know what they're paying for.  But
> keeping itemized charges is offensive to others.  The only solution I
> see is to a) make most documents available for free, like the current
> web, and b) decentralize the billing by making it a crypto deal btw
> the reader and the author, and let the reader's browser provide the
> itemized charges *exclusively*.

What's wrong with the current system of libraries ? 

I'm a member of 3 different traditional libraries (a university library and 
two municipal libraries). They act as intermediaries between me and the 
publishers, providing me with the same services but different focus (both 
offer local collections with different focus and full interloan, but the 
university librarians are much more familiar with interloan and billing of 
research costs to research accounts), selectively protecting my anonymity from 
other users, publishers and even their umbrella organisations (my university 
supervisor can't find out what books i've borrowed or interloaned at my cost, 
but he can find out what books i've interloaned on his research account).

There's no reason why I couldn't access the docuverse through several points 
of connection, one if/when I'm studying, one if/when I'm looking for a good 
read on a rainy weekend, one if/when I'm looking at stuff I'd rather other 
people didn't see and one if/when I'm publishing documents. Each of these 
could have a different billing mechanism (and level of detail in the billing 
mechanism), different level of anonymity, different collection of locally 
cached documents and an interface with a different emphasis.

`Traditional' libraries embody 2500 years of development in the humanities 
(compare that to copyright, which is only ~300 years old). I'd much rather 
drag my libraries into Xanadu than leave them behind. Most of the features of 
them are there for several reasons, some of them economic but many of them 
reflecting the fundamental nature of the text, documents and the social 
structures in which textual communication happens.

Some of these features prove to be remarkably useful. A `collections policy' 
for example is a statement of why a collection exists and what it's contents 
are. While Xanadu aims to be a ``Universal library'' (a term Nelson has used 
many times), the implicit collections policy is ``all documents.'' Build such 
a system and you'd be surprised at the variety of pornography, hate literature 
and garbage that get pumped in and the number of juristictions that ban Xanadu.

Consider a computer with a true random source of entropy (nuclear decay 
detector) automatically generating a stream of `text.' Is the output a 
document?  Do you want it in Xanadu? If it's a gigabyte long? If it's a 
gigabyte per second long? If it's stenographically hidden in a carefully faked 
GIF of two of your family members doing illegal and unmentionable things? If 
the decay detector is recording the status of your local nuclear reactor so 
you can know within seconds of a problem? If it's got a stenographically 
hidden channel in it of unknown content? If you can't prove whether it has a 
stenographically hidden channel in it or not?

A `collections policy' is a (natural language) statement that enables humans 
to classify documents as appropriate or inappropriate for a library 
collection. Xanadu needs one. If we want a ``universal library,'' we already 
have one, the universe.

> I wish Ted Nelson and others in the ***HEART*** of the architecture
> would join in a discussion of how Xanadu is evolving today.  Most of
> those I talk with are either non-technical Xanadu groupies waiting
> for the Second Coming or those who think XML/SQL/Java are _the_
> solution (the Open Hypertext System vision at www.bootstrap.org).

Anyone whose read Computer Lib / Dream Machines / Literary Machines or any of 
the more recent documents knows that XML/ SQL/ Java are not the second coming. 
It is, however, not clear to everyone that the second coming has to be an 
event rather than a slow evolution. Large complex systems evolving from 
slightly smaller systems on a daily basis.

I've got to admit that a large number of us are hedging our bets and working 
on architecture independent algorithms.


--    stuart yeates <s.yeates@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> aka `loam'
"Oh, havoc," cried Pooh, as he let slip the heffalumps of war.