From: Dave Winer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sun Sep 24 2000 - 01:03:18 PDT
Adam, two things:
1. I stand behind those statements.
2. In addition to being a web server, text editor, outliner, object
database, and all the other things it is, Radio UserLand is also a web
browser (Windows only). HTML is hugely important. We've made a major
investment in it over the last six years, and we're planning on staying with
HTML for the long haul.
HTML sucks, it ain't going nowhere, but it's HUGE.
(How did Vinod get cc'd on this? Hi Vinod!)
----- Original Message -----
From: "Adam Rifkin" <adam@KnowNow.com>
Cc: <bsittler@server1.KnowNow.com>; <email@example.com>; <firstname.lastname@example.org>;
Sent: Saturday, September 23, 2000 6:40 PM
Subject: [In response to Dave Winer] The Web browser can and will evolve...
> I just read the DaveNet essay, "What is P2P?", released on 9/20/2000,
> 7:38:39 AM Pacific, and FoRKed at:
> [Recall that this was the post in which Dave dreamed that he was
> "dressed like Mahatma Gandhi." :]
> In his dream, a young man asks Dave "what, oh what, is P2P?", and
> Dave's response begins with:
> > ***A network app that doesn't run in a web browser
> > First and foremost, the Web browser is going nowhere, like a cow in a
> > crowded Calcutta square. Now that Microsoft owns the market, and the Web
> > development world is thoroughly and permanently confused, there's no way
> > to evolve HTML in any particular direction ...
> The Web is an Internet-Scale System. Internet-Scale Systems are
> designed to be evolvable. Therefore ...
> 1. Regarding the phrase "the Web browser is going nowhere" ...
> I believe "the Web browser" can -- and will -- adapt and change as
> needed. For example, Jakob Nielsen points out in his column "Finally
> Progress in Internet Client Design" ...
> ... that after seven years without progress, people are now exploring
> new Web user interfaces for special-purpose use and/or improved user
> To paraphrase Alan Kay, the best way to predict the future of Web
> browsers is to invent ways to evolve what already exists.
> Tiny innovations such as "peering" -- embedding a Web server in an
> existing Web browser -- have significant new ramifications for user
> experience, user control, and Web application development & integration.
> With time, we'll evolve out of the mouse-potato world of Web "browsers"
> and into a richer, more interactive world of Web "peers". Imagine a
> world with Web peers on every desktop and in every application... and in
> every device!
> And whereas The Web As It Exists Today is a "One-Way Web" -- only Web
> "clients" can initiate communication -- a Web of peers is truly a
> "Two-Way Web" in which *any* peer -- person and program alike -- can
> initiate communication. Now *that* is true P2P: all the decentralization
> of the Web, leveraging all of the existing expertise of the Web's
> worldwide developers and all of the Web applications already out there.
> Imagine taking The Web As It Exists Today -- a world of browsable Web
> "pages" -- and evolving it into a world of composable Web "services"
> that support a variety of user interfaces and allow countless ways to
> extend the Web through active proxying:
> Simple Object Access Protocol presents a clean path toward this world of
> Web Application Integration.
> To quote Sam Cooke, "Don't know much about history... [but] what a
> wonderful a world This would be!"
> 2. Regarding the phrase "the Web development world is thoroughly and
> permanently confused" ...
> I believe that Web developers are the most nimble group of developers
> the world has ever seen. Whenever they need something that doesn't
> exist, they find and extend something that's already out there, and/or
> whip up scripts on-the-fly to do new and often amazing things.
> I believe it is the ad hoc, decentralized, easily scriptable nature of
> the Web that helped to accelerate its viral adoption among developers
> over the last decade.
> The innovation of a 100% Web-native peering platform -- a "WebOS" --
> would allow the world's Web developers to leverage their collective
> expertise to evolve the One-Way Web into a Two-Way Web with minimal
> additions to The Web As It Exists Today. Whereas today's One-Way Web is
> publish-and-wait-for-someone-to-browse, the Two-Way Web would use
> publish-and-subscribe to deliver information to interested people and
> programs instantly when that fresh information comes available. To
> offer such a service at Internet-Scale is to evolve Web Application
> Would the Web development world break their "thorough confusion" and
> apply this new meme? I believe so.
> And the reason I think they would try out the new meme is because of its
> trialability. Web developers and Web masters and system administrators
> and script jockeys and Web authors and Web hobbyists and so on have in
> extended the Web browsing experience way past the limits of what was
> possible before them.
> So... how to evolve the One-Way Web into the Two-Way Web?
> Well, what was once "Lunatic Fringe" can become "Conventional Wisdom" if
> the timing is right. So I'll take this opportunity to pound the table
> for the culmination of more than twenty years of event-notification
> research and development in both industry and academia: "We recommend a
> layered Interent-Scale Event Notification Service wire protocol, perhaps
> as an asynchronous version of HTTP with hooks for notification
> management," as advocated in ...
> Geez, Rohit, did we really write that paper over two years ago? Why did
> we never publish it? (Did we not think anyone would *subscribe*? :)
> 3. Regarding the phrase "there's no way to evolve HTML in any particular
> direction" ...
> I'm not a member of the World Wide Web Consortium, but I look to them
> for guidance:
> To quote: "W3C's work in XHTML helps create standards that provide
> richer Web pages on an ever increasing range of browser platforms
> including cell phones, televisions, cars, wallet sized wireless
> communicators, kiosks, and desktops. XHTML is intended to be used in
> conjunction with tags from other XML applications, so that in principle,
> you can combine say, XHTML tags with SVG Graphics tags or XML tags from
> any other XML application."
> It sounds to me like HTML is evolving in a direction that supports
> richer interactions and many forms of extensibility. Regarding new
> user interface memes in particular ...
> To quote: "Work on forms has now grown to the point where it is
> appropriate to split off into an independent working group chartered
> with developing W3C specifications for the next generation of Web
> forms. The key idea is to separate the user interface and presentation
> from the data model and logic, allowing the same form to be used on a
> wide variety of devices such as voice browsers, handhelds, desktops and
> even paper. XForms brings the benefits of XML to Web forms, transferring
> form data as XML. XForms aims to reduce the need for scripting, and to
> make it easier to achieve the desired layout of forms fields without
> having to resort to using nested tables etc."
> I believe that W3C's Dave Raggett, Ian Jacobs, Masayasu Ishikawa, and
> Takuya Asada are providing the leadership and the expertise needed to
> evolve HTML and its successors not just in a particular direction, but
> in the *right* direction.
> Rohit recently published some thoughts on XForms:
> To quote Rohit: "The Web won because the dominant GUI browsing idiom
> controlled the user experience so thoroughly that authors could expect
> to use the same fonts, layout, color, and input widgets across every
> platform from workstation to wristwatch ... Evolution proceeds by fits
> and starts ... Ultimately, the power to migrate to a new forms language
> is in Web authors' hands ..."
> So yes, I believe we are witnessing evolution-as-it-is-happening:
> To quote: "In the competitive market of Internet technologies, it is
> instructive to consider how the Web trounced competing species of
> protocols. Though it shared several adaptations common to Internet
> protocols, such as 'free software spreads faster,' 'ASCII systems spread
> faster than binary ones,' and 'bad protocols imitate; great protocols
> steal,' it leveraged one unique strategy: 'self-description.' The Web
> can be built upon itself. Universal Resource Identifiers,
> machine-readable data formats, and machine-readable specifications can
> be knit together into an extensible system that assimilates any
> competitors... in fact, the Web appropriated the philosophy of
> content-neutrality from MIME types: it learned how to adapt to any
> document type, new or established, equally well... [and] each step in
> the ascent of XML adds momentum to Web applications."
> Later in the essay Dave writes...
> > ...Programming doesn't need to be so hard. With the power of P2P comes
> > the opportunity to create new customized tools for specialized
> > communities, corporations, schools, publications, and pre-IPO Internet
> > startups. Everyone can participate in the new wealth of the Internet,
> > and we can forget the ways of the Empire, and give the power to write
> > programs to the people.
> > Our motto will be "Not only do we let the users design the programs,
> > we let them implement them too."
> Amen. I'd like to quote Slide 31 from Vinod Khosla's infrastructure
> presentation: "Adaptability, agility, and momentum will be the key to
> I believe that the Web developers have that adaptability, agility, and
> momentum to use their existing knowledge and tools and environments and
> languages to design the programs of the Two-Way Web, and to implement
> them too.
> We're a scant 100 days from 2001. Don't fight The Web As It Exists
> Today, and we'll avoid having HAL ask, "What are you doing, Dave?" :)
> Think *evolution*, not revolution. The Two-Way Web is manifest destiny.
> Marco Polo describes a bridge, stone by stone.
> "But which is the stone that supports the bridge?" Kublai Khan asks.
> "The bridge is not supported by one stone or another," Marco answers,
> "but by the line of the arch that they form."
> Kublai Khan remains silent, reflecting. Then he adds: "Why do you
> speak to me of the stones? It is only the arch that matters to me."
> Polo answers: "Without stones there is no arch."
> -- Italo Calvino, _Invisible Cities_
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