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<nettime> wwwast wwwasteland digest [guderian, rieder, hart, august, irving]


Re: <nettime> Bill Thompson: Dump the World Wide Web
     Carl Guderian <blacque_jacques {AT} yahoo.com>
     Bernhard Rieder <b {AT} 01100010.com>
     Keith Hart <keith {AT} thememorybank.co.uk>
     august <august {AT} alien.mur.at>
     David Irving <dirving {AT} box.net.au>

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Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2005 11:21:52 -0800 (PST)
From: Carl Guderian <blacque_jacques {AT} yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Bill Thompson: Dump the World Wide Web

--- geert <geert {AT} xs4all.nl> wrote:

> From: Open Democracy (via evel {AT} xs4all.nl)
> 
> Happy Christmas! (and, by the way: Dump the World
> Wide Web!)

Thompson was doing ok until he got to this part:

"Unusually for a company which is credited with
following trends rather than creating them, Microsoft
saw this first. They never liked the web and it was
only the horrible realisation that every company,
every net user and every competitor was going to
invest a vast amount of money, effort and resources
making it seem like it worked that forced Bill Gates
to turn the company around and give it a web focus
late in 1995."

His idea, set forth in The Road Ahead, was the
not-very-innovative model of one big info-server to
many dumb terminals--a public version of university
and corporate internal networks. Entertainment moguls
in the '80s and '90s were thinking the same way (Ken
Auletta's "Digital Highwaymen"). Gates must have read
a lot of sci-fi in the '60s and '70s, most of which
saw the future in such terms, so I guess he can be
excused.

Even before the WWW, the internet was moving toward
self-publishing and self-advertising. Early adopters
were also pretty good at entertaining themselves and
their friends, and they weren't waiting for Hollywood
or Madison Avenue to get around to serving their
entertainment needs. The web would have starved to
death if it had to wait to be served. The original
Addams Family TV shows aren't on DVD for many reasons
I suppose--sorting out rights, market too small,
rights-holders can't be bothered--but I can get them
on BitTorrent maybe.

Before the Web cold completely run away from him,
Gates cobbled together .NET, a sort of AOL for the
web. Sticking by the info-server dream, he created
CORBIS to buy up all content worth owning, like the
Bettman Archive. Archive.org is the way to go.

"These services would not rely on the Web browser as
the single way of getting information from an online
service, but would allow a wide range of different
programs to work together over the network. We already
accept that email, chat and even music sharing do not
have to be Web-based, but we can go much further."

AOL.

A news site could deliver text, images, audio and even
video through a program designed for the purpose,
instead of having to use a general-purpose browser, or
a shopping site could build its own shopping cart and
checkout that did nor rely on Web protocols. And we
would have no need for Google, because information
services would advertise their contents instead of
having to be searched by inefficient ‘spiders’."

AOL. You'll send me ads without me having to ask for
them?? Wow! Sign me up! 

The web does indeed suck but it looks as if, like
democracy, it doesn't suck as bad as the alternatives.
And, like a zombie, this "push media" idea comes
shuffling back and, hey, it's eaten another brain!

Carl

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Date: Wed, 05 Jan 2005 20:53:38 +0100
From: Bernhard Rieder <b {AT} 01100010.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Bill Thompson: Dump the World Wide Web

Isn't that a little off? Sure, I just love my java.rmi and it's way 
geekier than HTML but isn't that supposed to be a benefit that just 
about anybody can script a webpage?
Of course, the web is not a system architects wet dream but I can't 
shake the feeling that from the technical point of view things have been 
slowly consolidating for quite a while. Working with SOAP and XML-RPC 
has been a rather pleasant experience and it allows for quite some 
things without relying on remote objects that bring with them all the 
problems Florian pointed out.

Anybody who feels the need is free to get out their C# and code away 
that nifty .NET killer-app but I really see no need for a new meta-model 
that will sweep away the ignorant.

It sure hurts the god complex in every programmer (including my own) but 
clean and uniform design is only possible in a controlled, hierarchical 
environment and we should be glad that the net is not (yet) that way...

a+

B.

geert wrote:

> From: Open Democracy (via evel {AT} xs4all.nl)
> 
> Happy Christmas! (and, by the way: Dump the World Wide Web!)
> 
> As 2004 ends www.openDemocracy.net presents a gloriously radical assault 
> on the web's lost decade. Bill Thompson argues that the black hole of 
> online publishing needs a fresh start, a new model, a revolution that will 
> free the networked world from its absurd web prison.
> 
> Dump the World Wide Web!
> By Bill Thompson
> http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-8-10-2277.jsp
> 23-12-2004
 <...>

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Date: Wed, 05 Jan 2005 23:08:02 +0100
From: Keith Hart <keith {AT} thememorybank.co.uk>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Bill Thompson: Dump the World Wide Web

Florian,

Thanks for that. I stopped short when Thompson wrote

 >the web, like many a political refugee, lacks a state.<

In the absence of a state, the Company will have to do. Yet the thought 
that this piece can be explained by one authoritarian idea, a yearning 
for command and control, is later contracted by some of what he says he 
wants -- interaction, for instance. Curious.

What is the constituency for "the web is dead"? I was reminded of Bill 
Joy's emrgence in later life as an apocalyptic conservative ("the 
machines are going to get us").

Keith

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Date: Thu, 6 Jan 2005 00:31:09 +0100 (CET)
From: august <august {AT} alien.mur.at>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Bill Thompson: Dump the World Wide Web


Florian,

I think two major mistakes were made when the WWW was "designed".  These
are sort of in the text, though with a commerical slant.

First, Berners Lee made a text publishing format (html) that was in no way
meant to be visual (or acoustic for that matter).  The format was decided
upon and the engineers all said "that should be enough."  So, thanks to
the multiple addition of new tags and new formats, we have a mess of
non-compliant, compliant, open-source, closed-source WWW browsers, all of
which use variable sized fonts...etc.  Even today with all the fancy DHTML
and W3 extensions, you can still hardly make a web page that works to some
degree in all browsers, and for the most part you still have to design a
page from the top-left corner down to bottom-right corner with relative
coordinates.  You can't really do absolute coords and you can't really
make a page that is aligned from the top-right corner to the bottom left.
>From a design stand-point, html is a nightmare.


second thing is, all WWW content was meant to be static.  there was no
intention of ever doing live, broadcast-like content - radio and TV kind
of things.  There is no reason why when you conect to a website that you
shouldn't be able to remain connected (as in a telnet or ssh sesion)...and
you push and pull content to and from the server.  All the things we have
now, proprietary or not, (forms, http streaming for mp3 or jpeg refreshes)
seem like makeshift additions, which I for one wouldn't mind having some
new standards for.


best -august.


On Wed, 5 Jan 2005, Florian Cramer wrote:

> Does this guy work for Microsoft? His proposals sound like they come right
> from MS's Research & Development, including all the braindead
> security-flawed designed.

...

> Geert, what interests me is why you posted this article. It seems to me
> that you weren't necessarily thrilled by Thompson's technological vision,
> but more by the apocalyptic rhetoric of doing away with the web, right?
>
> -F

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Date: Thu, 06 Jan 2005 12:19:33 +1030
From: David Irving <dirving {AT} box.net.au>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Bill Thompson: Dump the World Wide Web

Remote procedure calls (RPC) and inter-process communication (IPC) are 
not, in themselves, security problems, nor are they particularly new 
ideas (and they certainly don't originate with Microsoft). I first 
encountered IPC when working with Data General minicomputers in the late 
1980s (the implementation was clumsy by modern standards, but quite 
secure), and RPC in 1996 working with various flavours of UNIX (again, 
the implementation was difficult to work with, but it had already been 
around long enough to have an O'Reilly book and could be made reasonably 
secure). If we choose to replace HTTP with some protocol which retains 
state, RPC and IPC implementations could be made sufficiently secure to 
do it. It's certainly true that the lack of state in HTTP is a huge 
problem, particularly for commercial exploitation of the Web, so the 
thrust of the Thompson article is quite reasonable. It's just 
unfortunate that he doesn't appear to know enough about the history of 
computing to realise that this can be (indeed already has been) done by 
someone other than Microsoft. The other thing is that a client-server 
architecture does not mandate stateless connections - there are numerous 
examples of client-server software which retain state. It should be 
possible to continue to use a client-server model for the Web which 
retains state over a lengthy transaction through the use of RPC and IPC.

Florian Cramer wrote:

>Does this guy work for Microsoft? His proposals sound like they come right 
>from MS's Research & Development, including all the braindead 
>security-flawed designed.
>
>Fortunately the Web is client-server and not like what Thompson proposes. 
>Otherwise we would have to shut it down because I would have turned into 
>an unmanageable non-open, insecure, giant distributed spyware application. 

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