[unrev-II] Thoughts

From: Eric Armstrong (eric.armstrong@eng.sun.com)
Date: Fri Apr 28 2000 - 15:22:40 PDT

  • Next message: Eric Armstrong: "[unrev-II] Another Alternative"

    * In yesterday's meeting, I commented that gathering
      intelligence is the easy part -- it is the evaluating
      and summarizing that is most important -- so the
      intelligence community has a small army of people
      devoted to that task. This lends further weight to
      the concept that a SlashDot-style system would be
      invaluable for our purposes.

    * Much as I want to read a "Guide to Running to a NIC"
      it is manifestly clear to me that I have no idea on
      earth what I could possibly contribute to it. It's
      pretty clear to me that I don't know the first thing
      about it.

    * I'm glad there is an effort to pursue a direction, but
      I remain unshaken in my belief that WBI is fundamentally
      the wrong approach to the problem. Its a great tool
      to investigate, and undoubtedly has uses -- even within
      this project -- but as the fundamental component for the
      design, I'm afraid I simply do not see it.
      The major points against it are:
        * Server-based manipulation of the user's view
          Having to make a round-trip to the server every time
          you want to change your view is, in my opinion, simply
          untenable. I find that kind of system unacceptable on
          a high-speed local network. I hate to think of what it
          would be like over the Web, especially across a modem.

        * Degradation of Information
          As nice as it would be that HTML pages would be transcoded
          in a way that would let people link to individual paragraphs,
          the links would degrade over time as pages are moved or
          modified. That's the way the Web is today, true. But the
          problem would be exacerbated by an order of magnitude --
          the average number of paragraphs per document. Even worse,
          since modifying a page would change the tags, any links
          I created might still be "valid", but pointing to the
          wrong location. The result would be gibberish as text I
          linked to or included inline from another document would
          be replaced by some other text in that document.

      The result of these two observations is that the system, as
      presently envisioned, will be both slow and ineffective.
      I saw ThinkTank singlehandedly destroy the outliner market by
      building a truly awful interface and marketing the hell out
      of the product. They got a tremendous amount of mind share and
      investigation by early adopters -- all of whom quickly concluded
      that the concept was useless. The fault was the interface, rather
      than the concept, but by the time we could prove that, the
      damage had been done and the market had all but disappeared.

      While an architecture built around WBI might be something we
      can learn from, I can only hope that it does not get promoted
      too widely, lest it have the same unfortunate impact on public
      perception that ThinkTank did.

    Accurate impartial advice on everything from laptops to table saws.

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