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Re: <nettime> Frank Chimero: Refragmentation
Florian Cramer on Wed, 1 Oct 2014 17:45:21 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Frank Chimero: Refragmentation


The argument that insufficient protocol semantics lead to "walled
gardens"...:


>    The lack of an <include> tag led to Pinterest. No method to connect
>    people created Facebook. RSS's confusing interfaces contributed to
>    Twitter's success. Any guargantuan web company's core value is a
>    response to limitations of the protocol (connection), markup spec
>    (description), or browsers (interface). Without proper connective
>    tissue, consolidation becomes necessary to address these unmet needs.
>    That, of course, leads to too much power in too few places. The door
>    opens to potential exploitation, invasive surveillance, and a fragility
>    that undermines the entire ethos of the internet.

... has been for years by computer scientist and W3C member Steven
Pemberton.

However, it's not realistic to think that richer markups or protocols would
solve these problems because they don't solve the "issue" of identification
and trust between users. Facebook, Ebay, etc. do not only manifest
third-layer protocol extensions (if one consider TCP/IP the first and http
the second layer of the web), but they are also identity and trust brokers.
At a conference in Amsterdam, Pemberton gave the example of semantic web
tags that could obsolete Ebay, simply because they would give users
sufficiently precise and searchable tags for marking up their own private
sales offer on their personal homepage. But nothing would ensure that the
tags wouldn't be used as spam, and that the seller identities weren't
fraudulent.

RSS is a case in point. The interface is neither confusing, nor really hard
to use for people who just want to follow and read feeds. But the reason
for Twitter's success is the social filtering which RSS doesn't offer. And
the social filtering function, in turn, relies on Twitter's function as an
identity broker. Conversely, the lack of an <include> tag did _not_ lead to
Pinterest because Pinterest is being used by people who cannot, or do not
want to, write HTML. It is the old problem in computer and information
science that solutions are being thought up from their back-end, not their
front-end, and often, usable front-ends cannot be developed because they
weren't considered in the back-end's design. (Case in point: XML is,
theoretically, the working and tested solution for any kind of document
processing; but not so in practice because there is, 17 years after its
invention, not a single user-friendly universal text program for editing
XML.)

-F


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