Here is my take:
BrowseUp is, indeed, very innovative and well done. I hesitate to use the
word 'innovative' because much of what BrowseUp does has been anticipated in
papers by Douglas Engelbart, Ted Nelson, and Francis Heylighen, among
others. Nevertheless, as an execution of the many ideas, BrowseUp is really
I formulated a model of how it works. Right or wrong, here it is.
Imagine that your browser is set to work through a proxy server, a tiny
local server that, itself, does the web connection for the browser. WBI,
IBM's transcoding engine, is one such server. Because your browser does not
directly interact with the web, the proxy server has the opportunity to look
at the URL you have requested and feed that URL to another web connection,
which happens to be BrowseUp's link server. The link server can download
what it knows about the selected URL while the selected URL, itself, is
coming in on another http connection. Now, two bodies of html information
are available in the proxy server. Before the server sends that to the
requesting browser, it can perform whatever computation it likes. BrowseUp
appears to add a tiny bit of html to the page before being displayed. That
added html forms an href link such that, should you click on it, you now go
directly (through the proxy server, of course) to some URL inside the link
server, where another window opens complete with all links others have
established with the link you just clicked on. Got that?
There's more. Suppose the proxy server could open a tiny dialog of its own
such that you can reach up into your browser image and grab something and
drag it into the new dialog. That establishes a target. Now, go to some
other web page and click on something and, presto, or words to that effect,
the proxy server opens a nifty display of some linkages you are about to
make. Both directions are linked, but you can 'uncheck' a box at either to
break a link. Meanwhile, you can annotate the link(s), complete with search
words and so forth. Got that?
So, now, you have imagined a really nifty kind of engine that gets awfully
close to a transclusion engine as described by Ted Nelson. The only
difference is that BrowseUp does not 'transclude' (meaning, actually insert
the referenced material into the page being displayed). Rather, it gives
you the equivalent of a menu to select those links you might want to browse.
Now, that's powerful, in my extremely humble opinion. So powerful, however,
that I raise a couple of personal opinions (hip shots!) for further
discussion. Note, these opinions actually apply to just about any NIC one
I am talking to the so-called 'web of trust' concept advanced by Tim
Berners-Lee in his Semantic Web initiative. We all need to trust each other
to 'do the right thing' (whatever that is). And, BrowseUp opens pandora's
proverbial box to all sorts of not-so-right things one could do. Imagine,
for instance, someone linking your home page heading to, say, a really
grotesque gif or jpg.
Here, I am thinking that it may be that establishing links ought to be a
priviliged operation. Only those who are authenticated and have permission
to do so should, perhaps, be allowed to do so. I am thinking that if
everyone on earth had the ability to slam links onto whatever they want,
there would be hell to pay.
But, I am not saying that BrowseUp, or even it's eventual clones, whatever,
is without merit. On corporate intranets, you already (theoretically
speaking) have a web of trust. On networked improvement communities (NICs),
the opportunity, if not requirement, exists to authenticate those who
participate. No, I'm not talking about private exclusive NICs; anybody can
join, but they must be authentic, and tracable, because the links can be
traced, through logs, to individuals, and that's probably the way things
Moving away from the web of trust thing, consider legal implications. What
are the laws regarding linking (especially, willy-nilly linking). It is my
understanding that eBay got an injunction against a dotCom that was either
linking or transcluding auction information at the dotCom's web site. I
recall (maybe with imperfect memory) phrases like 'deep linking' (Google got
224,000 hits on that one). In fact, the second hit was this:
which just happens to deal with the notion of deep linking. Here is a quote
from the wired.com article cited at the deepLinking url just cited:
"Legal experts did comment, however, saying the legal landscape surrounding
deep linking, or hyperlinking deep into another's Web page, is fraught with
There you have it. Due Dilligence, here, would suggest that, before any NIC
goes live, particularly one that permits linking around the web, some deep
research ought to be done on issues such as those raised here.
Well, that's my 0.02 EURs for the day.
From: Rod Welch <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Here is a summary of meeting yesterday that indicates BrowseUp can
> lot of Doug's goals for Hyperscope and improving collaboration.....
> Feedback from other attendees can expand and clarify these understandings.
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