Re: [unrev-II] Re: OHS Meeting at SRI on 010122 Demonstrate Brows eUp

From: Jack Park (
Date: Wed Jan 24 2001 - 07:00:00 PST

  • Next message: Eric Armstrong: "Re: [unrev-II] Re: OHS Meeting at SRI on 010122 Demonstrate Brows eUp"

    From: Eric Armstrong <>

    > As I recall, "we" (as a group) disliked that notion, at
    > the time, because we wanted people to use a "vanilla
    > browser", without having to do anything special to the
    > client.
    > I take it that our collective opinion is now more
    > in favor of a smarter client?
    I, for one, do not think such an inference is licensed by my description.

    > How much effort is it to install that proxy, anyway?
    > Or is it pretty transparent? (Or does a remote server
    > actually serve as the "proxy", so that you have to visit
    > that server and, from there, go to other points on the
    > Web?

    I suspect I did not make my model clear. The description I gave was my
    invention, conjured up while watching the demo. What they actually do has
    something to do with a browser plugin widget, not actually a proxy server,
    though the plugin may consist of such a device. Their plugin adds buttons
    and other functionality to IE 5 (and, at the moment, no other browser).

    As to whether our 'collective opinion' could or even should be moulded by a
    single demo is certainly up for grabs. I, for one, have never been against
    proxy servers, but the concept of pervasive computing certainly argues
    against that until, I suppose, my Palm Pilot gets 128 megs of ram. By then,
    it will probably be called a Backpack Pilot, which I already have in the
    form of a Sony Vaio XG38, which, btw, is not, repeat NOT a great buy if you
    are a software developer. That because it cannot be upgraded from Windows ME
    to Windows 2000 without throwing out all the nifty functionality that makes
    it a laptop. But, that's another rant, the one about how the whole concept
    of upgradable Wintel boxes has been tossed out the door by certain
    manufacturers. I am concerned that this box will need a special Linux port
    to run at all.

    Personally speaking, I have downloaded a bunch of open source proxy servers
    to play with. There may be something to that path.


    > Jack Park wrote:
    > >
    > > 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
    > > slick.
    > >
    > > 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
    > > might build.
    > >
    > > 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
    > > should be.
    > >
    > > 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 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
    > > unpaved ways."
    > >
    > > 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.
    > > Jack

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