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Time To Take the Internet Seriously

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the weather-eye dept.

The Internet 175

santosh maharshi passes along an article on Edge by David Gelernter, the man who (according to the introduction) predicted the Web and first described cloud computing; he's also a Unabomber survivor. Gelernter makes 35 predictions and assertions, some brilliant, some dubious. "6. We know that the Internet creates 'information overload,' a problem with two parts: increasing number of information sources and increasing information flow per source. The first part is harder: it's more difficult to understand five people speaking simultaneously than one person talking fast — especially if you can tell the one person to stop temporarily, or go back and repeat. Integrating multiple information sources is crucial to solving information overload. Blogs and other anthology-sites integrate information from many sources. But we won't be able to solve the overload problem until each Internet user can choose for himself what sources to integrate, and can add to this mix the most important source of all: his own personal information — his email and other messages, reminders and documents of all sorts. To accomplish this, we merely need to turn the whole Cybersphere on its side, so that time instead of space is the main axis. ... 14. The structure called a cyberstream or lifestream is better suited to the Internet than a conventional website because it shows information-in-motion, a rushing flow of fresh information instead of a stagnant pool."

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Serious (5, Funny)

shird (566377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397016)

As we all know, the Internet is serious business.
http://drunkenachura.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/internet-serious-business.jpg [wordpress.com]

Re:Serious (4, Funny)

Tynin (634655) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397096)

I think the issue is David Gelernter failed to predict how most of the Internet communities talk to each other [imageshack.us] . Not to mention it would require a massive restructuring of the Internet, but given the latest whispers of what ACTA will bring us [temp-e.net] , I guess it is more likely than not.

Impossible. (2, Insightful)

Alaren (682568) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397150)

As David Glertner himself points out,

25. From which we learn that (a) making correct predictions about the technology future is easy, and (b) writers should remember to put their predictions in suitably poetic language, so it's easy to say they were right.

Considering this piece reads like the sleep-talking of a singularitarian (and I say that as a sort of singularitarian myself), I'm intrigued that he would put it this way. I've never heard of him before and it does not appear that I've been missing anything of value.

Re:Impossible. (1, Funny)

Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397874)

>I've never heard of him before

You have not been paying attention, and this reflects badly on you.

Re:Impossible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31398074)

Never heard of tuple spaces?

Re:Impossible. (1)

epine (68316) | more than 4 years ago | (#31398300)

Considering this piece reads like the sleep-talking of a singularitarian

He runs in those circles:
Kurzweil Debates Gelernter at MIT [robots.net]
I'm shocked how many smart people have a deep intuition that computation can't underlie consciousness when we have so many formal results that the limits of computation are inscrutable (complexity theory).

Users Are Not Reactionary After All [edge.org]
I thought I would find a soul-mate in Gelernter, since I believe strongly in aggregating *my own* data, but in truth I don't get much out of his ideas. This is what I wrote to myself when I first read that piece:

Edge question 2010: made the absurd statement that 99.9% of the technocrats involved in creating the internet will be displaced when the system evolves to operate in a top-down mode. This is extremely insulting, because it implies the technocrats have created the system in the image of their personal limitations, and denies the possibility that we've chosen to work at this level because that's where the action is. If we'd started top down, the internet would have never made it off the ground.

Many of us were well aware that we were cutting rough stone to build a cathedral. I use a personal wiki to keep track of my ideas, and I rely heavily on being able to determine when I added a comment through the page history. The time axis can be immensely useful. Still, it doesn't strike me as a liberating force. I had an Econtalk lecture on my iPod that I ended up listening to in six minute chunks over two weeks. Time can be quite messy in its own right.

Gelernter might be brilliant on some level, but he's Ted Nelson brilliant, FWIW. I think the silver bullet is a metaphor. Gelernter thinks that metaphor is a silver bullet.

The question is how accurate are the predictions. (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397490)

Anyone can make a prediction. I'll make a prediction right now that one day we'll have a man on Mars.

The problem is how ACCURATE is the prediction. And his predictions are pretty useless. They're filled with current buzzwords and have no falsifiable content. Take prediction #5:

5. Consider Web search, for example. Modern search engines combine the functions of libraries and business directories on a global scale, in a flash: a lightning bolt of brilliant engineering. These search engines are indispensable -- just like word processors. But they solve an easy problem. It has always been harder to find the right person than the right fact. Human experience and expertise are the most valuable resources on the Internet -- if we could find them. Using a search engine to find (or be found by) the right person is a harder, more subtle problem than ordinary Internet search. Small pieces of the problem have been attacked; in the future we will solve this hard problem in general, instead of being satisfied with windfalls and the lowest-hanging fruit on the technology tree.

WTF? I'm not going into whether a search engine is an "easy problem". Everything is easy once it has been done by someone else.

But why does he believe that finding PEOPLE is an issue? This is the INTERNET. You can find published information ABOUT people. But PEOPLE are not abstracted and defined on the Internet.

And yes, in the "future" this "problem" will be "solved". When, how, where and by whom is skipped. So this "prediction" cannot be falsified. Therefore, it can never be shown to be wrong.

That article is crap.

Re:The question is how accurate are the prediction (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397554)

Ghor kaliyug!!!

Re:The question is how accurate are the prediction (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31398326)

The search engine is the easy problem to solve. Finding and cataloguing words is fairly easy.

Determining the right information from the wrong, finding the experts amongst the 'internet experts', is truly a difficult problem. Which I think he is alluding to.

Re:Serious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31398354)

He survived? Pity.

Re:Serious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397334)

Is the same as when a chick says she wants to 'get serious'?

Re:Serious (4, Funny)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397386)

Oh Great!, Now I have to marry the internet?

Re:Serious (1)

ThePengwin (934031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397756)

I thought i made it clear that I was only in it for fun, Internet! Don't you remember that time i first logged on, and we went to those joke sites and made bogus Hotmail accounts?

Re:Serious (2, Funny)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397804)

Dude, I feel your pain. Same thing happened to my internet.

When we first met, she gave me, all shy and embarrassed, her first 176x144 animated gift of a naked girl. After that, mountains of pornography throughout our good years together. Now that we are married, she won't even let me download a single boob. All I get from her is "404 - I have a headache". I'm still getting some action from a clandestine ISP that delivers binary groups to me. If she ever finds out about eth0:1, I'm dead.

Re:Serious (2, Informative)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397388)

I was wondering why the Internet left some toiletries in my bathroom the other night.

Re:Serious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397816)

That doesn't sound like the internet I know. Unless by "leaving some toiletries" you actually mean "not flushing."

Take the internet seriously? (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397020)

Somebody help me understand this statement, it does not compute.

Re:Take the internet seriously? (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397076)

Boy would we be in trouble if we took the internet seriously. (I'm looking at you Anonymous Coward).

Re:Take the internet seriously? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397154)

?! Stop staring at me, goddammit! I'm schizophrenic and you're goddamn staring is exacerbating my paranoia! FUCK!!

Re:Take the internet seriously? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397218)

Parent was talking to me idiot.

Re:Take the internet seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397324)

Now now, please don't argue with each other. Love is the order of the day.

Re:Take the internet seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397404)

Shaddup all of you. You're giving me a migraine.

Re:Take the internet seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397484)

Excellent dissasociative identity disorder reference. By the way, Megadeth are on tour and I gots tickets.

...It gives me a migraine headache thinking down to your level,
yea, just keep on thinking it's my fault, and stay an inch or two outta kicking distance
Mankind has got to know his limitations!

Feeling claustrophobic, like the walls are closing in,
Blood stains on my hands and I don't know where I've been,
I'm in trouble for the things I haven't got to yet,
I'm sharpening the axe and my palms are getting wet,

Sweating Bullets!

Re:Take the internet seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31398390)

NO U

Re:Take the internet seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397342)

Break the mirror. I am God and I command you to do it.

Re:Take the internet seriously? (2, Insightful)

Earthquake Retrofit (1372207) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397220)

The BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8548190.stm [bbc.co.uk] says access to the internet is a human right. That sounds serious.

Re:Take the internet seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31398600)

The BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8548190.stm [bbc.co.uk] says access to the internet is a human right. That sounds serious.

Does that mean if you are too poor to buy access, your government has to provide it to you? Electricity and equipment too? Do convicts have the right to Internet access? How about POWs?

Re:Take the internet seriously? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31398148)

Maybe the article is a joke.

On second thoughts, scratch "maybe".

Seriously, (3, Funny)

miracle69 (34841) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397038)

Where are we going to take it?

And did Al Gore give us a curfew?

Re:Seriously, (1)

uolamer (957159) | more than 4 years ago | (#31398276)

A.I. Gore did yes...

"Information overload" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397072)

David Gelernter must be a Bing user.

Re:"Information overload" (1)

SputnikPanic (927985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397176)

As the summary mentions, he survived one of the Unabomber mail bombs and during the time he was recovering, he wrote a great book about the 1939 World's Fair in New York titled "1939: The Lost World of Fair." If you're ever interested in getting a sense of what the US was like prior to its entry into WWII, the book is definitely worth a read.

Re:"Information overload" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397856)

What you did there... I sees it.

Sure is good to know (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397098)

It sure is good to know that all of the OWL people http://www.w3.org/TR/owl-features/ [w3.org] have been fannying about until now.
We really should take all of this stuff seriously.
Oh, wait: is that a codephrase indicating that we should commence the final assault on /.?

Re:Sure is good to know (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397396)

I think it's codephrase for "the government must step in to prevent the Internet from continuing to be open to all rather than protected like its bedfellows in traditional media".

NOOOOO!!! (5, Funny)

Alaren (682568) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397112)

At first I thought this guy must really be Gene Ray. I mean... I kept waiting for him to start talking about circle square 86 hour Cloud magic.

But then...

17. There is no clear way to blend two standard websites together, but it's obvious how to blend two streams.

I know the answer to this one already.

DO NOT CROSS THE STREAMS.

Re:NOOOOO!!! (0)

thereimns (1110955) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397526)

And we also know that the streams will be crossed, and it will save the day.

Dear software engineers (2, Insightful)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397114)

Let's come up with something to replace HTTP/JavaScript/Flash/what-have-you. It's huge waste, but even worse, distortion.

We have the technology. We can do better than this.

x86 assembly, bogus sessions, they do not have to be fate.

Right? Right?

Re:Dear software engineers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397224)

no way.. it's more profitble to make little monsters bigger.. now we have x86_64!!

Re:Dear software engineers (4, Insightful)

jo42 (227475) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397416)

replace HTTP/JavaScript/Flash/what-have-you

Every time I do "web development", I feel like I'm duct taping popsicle sticks together to build a house and then throwing in a bit of mud to seal the holes. Even after 10+ years everything still feels like a really bad hack/kludge/bodge.

Re:Dear software engineers (5, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31398242)

Because it is. You have a sessionless protocol trying to do sessions. Amusingly enough written on top of a connection based protocol (so you have a session built in- the TCP connection). You have a text markup language based on the idea of the client choosing how to display data being used to display pixel perfect displays. You have a language that they had so much faith in they decided to name it after another popular language in hopes people would confuse them. And that language has no built in method for transfering data to/from the server or doing RPCs, you have the whole AJAX hack thrown in on top to do that. There's nothing about the whole stack that's well designed for modern uses. But its universal, so we're stuck with it unless Mozilla and MS work together to push out something new.

it already exists (4, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31398334)

It's called usenet.

The web 2.0 version is RSS feed of a blog (woohoo). And the application is an RSS agregator.

Taken to it's logical end point you get Lotus Notes.
 

Es looney I tells you, daft as a march hare! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397136)

Maybe one too many, I says.

condition: buzzword alert (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397148)

My language parser borked on 'cybersphere.' The words 'cyber' and 'virtual' leave a terrible aftertaste making whatever came later deteriorate into gibberish.. oh wait, this whole thing is gibberish to begin with. gibberish that seems (not entirely sure) to be a justification for everyone to throw their data (and I mean ALL their data) into the public space for the sake of...I'm not entirely sure, but I'll assume it's in the interests of whatever social/political/economic institutions he's a member of.

I know, how about letting the user decide the 'how' as well as the 'what' when it comes to interfacing with the technology at his disposal? I know, I know, that would be asking people to think for themselves for a few nanoseconds and we can't have that or else the terrorists win, the children lose, and 'freedom' dies. damn, what was I thinking? Gotta dumb everything down so even the most dull witted soccer mom can process it without the knees jerking upward..

Re:condition: buzzword alert (4, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397304)

Exactly, kind of, I think.

The Internet is not a thing like the 'winter olympics' or recording industry. The Internet is the system of communications systems which allow the transfer of information (as well as aggregation, falsification, and overload of). It changes the source of information for those who regularly access it when compared to the time before the Internet.

What needs to be discussed is not cyber this, or virtual that, but how users use information. Lets face it, for a large portion of the population the phrase 'use information' is rather optimistic. Aggregating information, presenting it in a way that is both intuitive and useful is something of a holy grail. We've seen many attempts to do things like this, and each of them has their fans and foes. What is being suggested is essentially that we all need to have one set of cultural values. Looks good on paper, but it makes a huge mess of things in real life.

Then again, look at Microsoft Windows. How may people do you know that think this is how computers are supposed to work, and anything not like Windows is weird?

A single cultural viewpoint is wrong.

Re:condition: buzzword alert (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397358)

Encountering a "virtual" is just telling you that you are going to read a lot of rubbish and yet end up having to do all the thinking yourself anyway.

Ask any C++ programmer, he'll agree.

Re:condition: buzzword alert (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397528)

At least you guys have multiple inheritance.

you are going to read a lot of rubbish and yet end up having to do all the thinking yourself anyway.

Java scum call that an "interface".

Re:condition: buzzword alert (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397754)

Seriously... "lifestream"? Isn't that the energy force of the planet in Final Fantasy VII?

Re:condition: buzzword alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397768)

well how many 'lifestreams' can run concurrently within one 'cybersphere'?

Re:condition: buzzword alert (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397792)

I got farther than you, thought maybe he has something to say, but then gave up when he said this:

users of any computing system ought to have a simple, uniform operating system and interface. Users of the Internet still don't.

Sure, keep building your dream world, I'll stay in the real world, thanks.

Re:condition: buzzword alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31398496)

there's a reason the buzzword parser preempts most tasks.. if it triggers, it's time to close the port.

Whaaaa? (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397162)

The Internet's future is not Web 2.0 or 200.0 but the post-Web, where time instead of space is the organizing principle — instead of many stained-glass windows, instead of information laid out in space, like vegetables at a market — the Net will be many streams of information flowing through time. The Cybersphere as a whole equals every stream in the Internet blended together: the whole world telling its own story. (But the world's own story is full of private information — and so, unfortunately, no human being is allowed to hear it.)

The future of the Internet is information streams blending together? What the fudge does this even mean?

Hey, if you like this guy, you will probably enjoy reading this [elsewhere.org] as well.

Re:Whaaaa? (1)

Namarrgon (105036) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397264)

It means the future looks like an Inbox, with RSS, Wave & Buzz thrown in.

Re:Whaaaa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397740)

It means the future looks like an Inbox, with RSS, Wave & Buzz thrown in.

You are describing the present.

Time to start taking ourselves too seriously (5, Funny)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397182)

Time to start taking ourselves too seriously

No moment in technology history has ever been more exciting or dangerous than now, when I started speaking.

Hahahahahahaha! (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397234)

This [encycloped...matica.com] is [4chan.org] a [theonion.com] joke [lolcats.com] , right [google.com] ?

Re:Hahahahahahaha! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397384)

There are things that should be taken lightly. There are things that should be taken serious.

And then there are people who just take themselves too serious.

Re:Hahahahahahaha! (1)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397426)

And then there are people who just take themselves too seriously.

And then there are grammar Nazis.

He does sometimes make sense (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397252)

Gerlenter has some really off the wall ideas (see for example this post by Prof. Jeffrey Shallit http://recursed.blogspot.com/2009/02/religion-makes-smart-people-stupid.html [blogspot.com] ). But in this case, some of what Gerlenter has to say might make sense and he certainly has shown from his prior work that he's someone worth paying attention to when he is talking about computers. However, the labeling this as 35 predictions is clearly not a good descriptor of TFA. For example, 12 is not at all a prediction but simply a recap "In short: it's time to think about the Internet instead of just letting it happen." About a third of these are not predictions but rather observations. Of the predictions many of them are so vague or ill-defined as to be nearly meaningless. If he were a psychic I'd consider them to be in the category where people are deliberately vague so they can claim hits later, and in fact in 25 he humorously acknowledges this issue by saying "writers should remember to put their predictions in suitably poetic language, so it's easy to say they were right." There's also a terrible amount of buzzwords: virtual,cyber, lifestream. They don't help making this essay more readable. So if that's what he thinks constitutes poetry I have to wonder if he grew up among Vogons.

Some of his predictions seem also to be very interesting if true but possibly wrong. For example, in regards to 11 which states that "the Internet will never create a new economy based on voluntary instead of paid work" which is probably true under some interpretations and is already possibly falsified under other interpretations (Larry Lessig's "Remix" discusses this issue in detail).

Other predictions such as 9 and 10 which discuss how daily work-live will change are interesting although they sound somewhat pseudo-utopian.

Overall, this is interesting speculation but probably could have been summarized in about a third the length. Still worth reading though.

Re:He does sometimes make sense (1)

Flambergius (55153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397294)

Gerlenter debated Ray Kurzweil on AI and I have to say I wasn't impressed with his arguments or style.

http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/422

Contradiction. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397552)

He's "...someone worth paying attention to..." but he cannot make decent predictions about the material he is supposed to be worth listening to about?

He cannot even clearly define the buzz words he fills his "predictions" with. That article is not worth reading.

Arbitrary Problem Creation (3, Insightful)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397256)

I don't care if he predicted Nostradamus and first described self-sustaining fusion. The points and problems brought up are in large part already known and understood in other terms, with many of them dismissed by those who understand the problems in the terms commonly used.

6. The internet does not create information overload. It doesn't create information, or anything for that matter. It is constructed and filled by people who either handle the information load well or do not (hence over-load). The number of sources and amount received from them is under the control of the receiver. This is only a problem if the person does not develop a suitable technique for handling the flow, or is prevented from using it. Simultaneity is not a way to handle a large flow except in unprocessed pass-though. Regardless of the technologies that might be employed for any of this, sucessful collection of new material requires serial reception with the majority of attention focused on the item is interest.

Far more useful in developing the ability to absorb more information faster is the concept of 'media richness'. Plain text is just that, very plain, while human behavior is very rich (language plus nonverbals, etc.). Most of the net is low richness. It could be made more dense, but to be richer would then also have to be made cleaner, with less noise within the signal.

14. Creating your own new ideas and presenting them as validated concepts by comparing them with existing concepts is a technique well used in fiction writing. In non-fiction people expect to be able to compare the old and new and see justification for why the latter is useful before they should be expected to see arguments as to why one is better. Nobody can agree with what they can't understand. You can't even say to understand it if you can't explain it, you can only say you know what you mean.

I strongly recommend getting a job selling, installing and supporting a large installation so you can see just how much thought and work goes into making the internet happen. It has never just happened on its own.

Not creation, observation (1, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31398290)

The fundamental difference between your analysis and his writing is that you are thinking of technical concerns while he is thinking of people first.

The internet does not create information overload.

Not by itself it doesn't. What he has observed is the universal truth that humans in combination with the internet produce information overload. It allows us such easy access to information that was can (and do) become overloaded in the mass of it. It allows so many people to create information that independent of anyone consuming it, the great mass of it is still there waiting to fall on you like an over-stuffed closet when you go looking.

The number of sources and amount received from them is under the control of the receiver.

And people never overeat because after all, the amount of food intake is controlled by the receiver.

People are not good at turning off the spigot.

Simultaneity is not a way to handle a large flow except in unprocessed pass-though.

Now you are attacking his proposed solution instead of his observation. But I think you should keep that distinct.

Plain text is just that, very plain...Most of the net is low richness. It could be made more dense, but to be richer would then also have to be made cleaner, with less noise within the signal.

I disagree vehemently that plain text is "very plain". The right words can be far more illuminating than any video, as long as you are able to assemble root meaning in your head. Video can be better at building context but I think video lacks the fundamental power that raw text can deliver many concepts, no matter how tightly you edit.

14. Creating your own new ideas and presenting them as validated concepts by comparing them with existing concepts is a technique well used in fiction writing....

If you are writing this paragraph in response to his point 14, I'd say what he was talking about has totally eluded you. He's not talking about physical structure, at all. In fact he never really had a thing to say about physical structure.

Not really the internet (1, Insightful)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397284)

The article says "internet", but it really means "the HTTP based family of applications that use the internet". Sometimes a customer gets me by mistake when they need help because "their internet is down". I start to get mad because of self contradictory statements, but then I remember that they really mean, "my web browser stopped working". (You can tell I'm not really tech support because next I try to find out what browser they are using, and they are never able to tell me. Which means they are using IE.)

Having cleared that up, I can only see consolidation of HTTP applications under some super googly company (perhaps one the article writer envisions heading) as making things worse. I suggest that clutter in your web browser is not much different that clutter in your house. Get a book on Feng Shui or equivalent and start deleting the stuff that isn't helping you (making you happier, needed for work, etc).

P.S. I discovered a very important, but little known principle of error page design. If you put something in giant type at the top of the page, no one reads it. It you put it in little bitty 6 point type at the very bottom, everyone will read it. Even if they need to use their magnifier app. I can't explain it (it must have something to do with lawyers), but now that I know, I save a lot of frustration by putting the most important message in little bitty type at the bottom. (I still leave it at the top in big type also in case any old fashioned types like me see it.)

Sounds like Neurogrid to me... (1)

Julz (9310) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397366)

A friend of mine, Sam Joesph, was working on a project called Neurogrid http://www.neurogrid.net/php/index.php [neurogrid.net] to develop a platform for distributed information sharing. I think he was looking into connecting some of this information using multiple dimensions like time and not just location (space).

What's the fuss? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397402)

So appearantly we have someone who predicts a WHOLE DAMN LOT of stuff (seriously, most people wouldn't even THINK of that much, let alone PREDICT it), and he predicted the internet. Ok. I'm fairly sure if I spend my life predicting stuff I am supposed to guess right from time to time. If you want to impress me, give me all his predictions and a percentage how many were true. More than 50% and I will start listening.

And what does the Unabomber have to do with it at all? Is surviving an explosion now something that boosts your credibility? In that case, I'd guess demo experts should run for public offices.

Re:What's the fuss? (1)

butlerm (3112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397486)

"predicted the internet"? That takes a lot of talent. The idea that there would be something like the Internet was obvious the day packet oriented networking was invented.

Ted Nelson coined the term "hypertext" in 1965, when Gelernter was ten. The combination of the two (i.e. "the web") is certainly not beyond the capacity of someone having ordinary skill in the art. It is simply a matter of economics.

Project Xanadu in 1960. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397590)

So that would make an attempt to IMPLEMENT his "prediction" taking place when he was FIVE YEARS OLD.

Isn't it kind of hard to "predict" something that someone else has already spent the time and energy on to attempt an implementation?

Oh, and

The Cloud (or the Internet Operating System, IOS -- "Cloud 1.0") will take charge of your personal machines.

You might want to check with Cisco first. They might have a problem with you using that TLA and name. It's rather close to what they've been marketing FOR YEARS.

Now, why are the ramblings of this guy of any interest to anyone?

So when did this guy predict the internet? (3, Interesting)

rossdee (243626) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397656)

So when did he predict 'the internet' ? Was this before or after Al Gore invented it?

AFAIK Shoghi Effendi predicted the internet back in 1936:

"A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvellous swiftness and perfect regularity."

Life Streams and Feeds (1)

physburn (1095481) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397448)

17. There is no clear way to blend two standard websites together, but it's obvious how to blend two streams. You simply shuffle them together like two decks of cards, maintaining time-order — putting the earlier document first. Blending is important because we must be able to add and subtract in the Cybersphere. We add streams together by blending them.

---

This guy is half way to inventing my Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com] , except he didn't see the usefulness of similarity filtering to some source, to keep the stream on topic.

Nobody expects the internet censorship (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397496)

And the worst part is how similar is becoming to the spanish inquisition

Aaaah, the prediction makers... (3, Informative)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397508)

It’s like religion, but without as much power. Kinda like a predecessor.

The only revelation that ever stunned me, was the following:
I was still a teenager, and I read in the German computer magazine PC Welt about Nostradamus and what of that “actually happened” in the computer area.
And one prediction for the very close future was, that a new OS would come, to rule the world. Something big.
Mind you that was long before Linux (created 1991-92) was even remotely mainstream. I constantly read computer magazines, and know that it was not mentioned once or known.
They joked that maybe Nintendo would create a Yoshi OS. (Super Mario World, the first game to feature Yoshi, was released in 1990-91. Which gives you a feeling of when this was written.)

Years later, when I heard more and more about Linux, and even IBM started to pick it up, I started to realize that this was that OS!
Doesn’t mean anything, but somehow that was such a moment that really made me think. Like: Was he an Alien and/or time traveler from the future? ;)

To this day I wish I could get that article back. I know it was in the summer as we were at the beach. But the oldest issues they have in their archive are from 2007. So if you got an old archive from maybe 1990-92, please contact me! :)

Re:Aaaah, the prediction makers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31398450)

That was insightful, but not in any way magical. The best operating systems back in 1991 were still tremendously cumbersome to work with and the technology was still simple enough that even a small group of people could develop an operating system.

By the same logic, I predict that a new kind of TV will soon come, to rule the world. Something big.

Elitist stupidity (1, Flamebait)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397538)

The idea that the internet is ever going to deliver massive quality ignores the simple fact: previous mediums were controlled by the elite. To hold a medium controlled by everyone to the same standards as mediums controlled by a select group is to ignore the very nature of the internet!

The internet is LolCatz and Rickrolling and Facebook Pickle people talking shit on Nickelback.

Acting like this fact imperils our ever present need for another Rousseau is elitist bullshit.

Too long our humanity has been defined by assholes who sniff at the notion that our useless and infantile pursuits aren't good enough. Fuck them! What proof is there that Icanhazcheeseburger isn't this generation's Guernica?

We have a right to just be human, without some shit-eating prick telling us we're not doing a good enough job of meeting his definition of awesome.

Quantity is not quality. I get it. But, have you seen some of the shit they call quality? 90% of Shakespeare is stupid and unreadable. Foucault is downright fucking retarded. And frankly I still don't get how Plato's Cave helps me make ends meet.

Quality is just elitist bullshit. We have a right to a stupid and useless internet.

Re:Elitist stupidity (1)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397694)

Quantity has a quality all of its own. - Joseph Stalin.

Time-Based Filesystem (2, Interesting)

dcollins (135727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397540)

You know, like about 10 or 15 years ago I saw this TV presentation by a guy who swore up and down that filesystems should store & display documents solely by timestamp order of creation. (Is this the same guy?) "Time instead of space... cyberstream or lifestream... shows information-in-motion, a rushing flow of fresh information...," all that jazz.

I routinely think back on that because it's one of the wrongest, most idiotic epic fails I ever remember seeing. I'm astonished to see it popping back up with a bunch of "web" buzzwords plastered on top.

Re:Time-Based Filesystem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397614)

I'm astonished to see it popping back up with a bunch of "web" buzzwords plastered on top.

You are? Really? Where have you been the last 10 years?

Re:Time-Based Filesystem (3, Interesting)

PaintyThePirate (682047) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397840)

Interestingly, this is the approach that OLPC and now Sugar Labs have taken for file access in Sugar, using the Journal activity [laptop.org] . This is also the direction Gnome is heading in, with Zeitgeist [gnomejournal.org] and its GUIs.

It's a little strange at first, and it certainly can't replace normal file browsers completely, but it ends up being pretty convenient in day to day use. Of course, these aren't filesystems, just layers atop them.

I saw the same thing... (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397932)

I'm not sure if this is the same guy, but I think it is. In the video I saw the concept was called a "lifestream" then as well.

To me the idea also seems bad. I understand the motivation, he was trying to get people away from filesystems and into some more natural system for understanding how to find data. But temporal based is just not it. Humans can have a hard time ordering things absolutely in time, so to make access time based only obscures how to get to things, and also makes things that happened long in the past very hard to access - basically like storing all data in an array instead of a hashmap. People want to be able to get to things quickly and a time based interface does not really help much with that except for the most immediate things.

Revised opinion after reading points. (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31398316)

I have to say I wrote that response before I had read through all 35 points.

Yes the lifestream idea is still there. Along with the kinds of concepts that made me question it before in terms or organizing my own data - that something I wanted to deal with later I would just "move into the future".

But you know what? He has a good point that a great deal of the internet ended up using lifestreams anyway - blogs are all organized inherently along a timeline. And if you think about it meshing streams of data in a temporal way we are doing all over, from email readers hooked to multiple accounts to twitter clients feeding us information from many people that is interleaved according to when exactly it was produced.

In fact related to Twitter I thought all of his observation in the later section about the culture of "now" to be really astute observations. The internet has made it so easy to look backwards, but with such a volume of information that we almost never do...

I'm not sure he has the right answers to solve the problems he observes. But that does not diminish what I feel to be the accuracy and insight of his observations.

Wait...what? (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397550)

"...better suited to the Internet than a conventional website." What?

Can I get a TLDR? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397582)

Anyone?

Linked Data / Semantic Web (1)

TwistedPants (847858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397662)

This sounds suspiciously like a lot of what http://linkeddata.org/ [linkeddata.org] + friendly end user tools could give us - data from multiple sources which can be combined to enhance what you are looking at, viewed through a 'lense' (specific application) to make it meaningful - say, an interactive graph.

Old... (1)

nathan s (719490) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397668)

I reviewed this guy and his lifestream idea back in 2004 (http://www.natesimpson.com/blog/archives/2004/08/10/scopeware/) and ultimately found myself pretty unimpressed. I mean, the core ideas are interesting but so patent-encumbered that it will be a decade before they are touchable, and the man himself holds some pretty irritating/intolerant views (cited a few in that post) that left a bad impression on the whole. Sad then, sad now.

Outlook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397722)

Hate to say it, but I use MS Outlook (with lots of RSS feed subscriptions) to integrate all my communications sources, inculding Slashdot. I get all of it in a seach folder called "Unread messages".

I suspect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397734)

this might just be rambling nonsense.

Taming the Natives (2, Insightful)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397752)

Taking the internet seriously is what leads to all these "internet laws" that slashdot seems to rally against. In fact, the internet's existence as an international object that isn't technically, on the whole, legal in most jurisdictions, for one reason or another, is due in part to the internet not being taken seriously. Now, people are taking what they read online reasonably seriously; as seriously as any other medium. The internet is now no longer just for geeky adults, but also for children, and as such, a large portion of the population will look to have it censored or at least rated, just like any other medium (the logistics of such a task is another issue entirely).

The days of the internet being a wild west of vocal freedom are in danger of coming to a close, for as much as living in a wild west can be exhilarating and can make you feel more free, there will always be people who want to develop it to make it as safe as the colonised areas.

Detracting Point 3# (3, Insightful)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397778)

3. Here is a simpler puzzle, with an obvious solution. Wherever computers exist, nearly everyone who writes uses a word processor. The word processor is one of history's most successful inventions. Most people call it not just useful but indispensable. Granted that the word processor is indeed indispensable, what good has it done? We say we can't do without it; but if we had to give it up, what difference would it make? Have word processors improved the quality of modern writing? What has the indispensable word processor accomplished?

Free speech, that's what. Not only free as in libre, but free as in gratis. It's possible to replicate ideas across the world at real-world cost far too small to meter.

One of my ancestors wrote a book, the only copy of the manuscript was destroyed when the house was flooded by a nearby river. The publishers also lost the only other copy of the text, but the family considered they'd be unlikely to actually accept it and publish.

So one can see the fundamental advantage of not being bound by a pencil or a typewriter. In the information age what we really have in excess is truly inexpensive duplication.

It's ironic then that data can still go missing, although this is for other reasons rather than cost of making a backup, like intellectual property.

The question the author poses is not quite the right one to ask. What has been ubounded by digital word processing is quantity. Quality is different, a subjective and arbitrary value.

Looking at it another way, I consider readily ubiqutious free speech too cheap to meter as a pretty nicequality.

Indeed the 'du-' in duplication implies you create a second identical copy which is what you'd have to do with a pen or typewriter. This word is no longer accurate for what is possible with the Internet.

Gelernter who. . ? (5, Insightful)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397828)

So, it seems that David Gelerter was blown up by the Unabomber, survived and wrote a book [amazon.com] about the experience. In a cavalier attempt to "Take the Internet Seriously" I dredged up two reviews from Amazon's customer comments which show opposing valances of political opinion regarding the book's content. I thought it might help to explain the kind of filters Mr. Gelerter views the world through and thus help one decide whether his little treatise on the Internet is worth anything.

Review Number One. . .

"Drawing Life" is by David Gelernter, a computer science professor who survived one of Ted Kaczynski's mail bombs.

The book is about a well educated, intelligent man who has descended into a fear of the future and a hatred of the society that nurtured him, who dreams of a glorious American past that never really existed, who has written a venomous yet pedestrian political tract that would never have been printed without the author's notoriety, and who has come to the conclusion that sometimes people must be deliberately killed to remake society.

This book is also about the Unabomber.

Gelernter has endured an awful lot, and for this one is prepared to grant him slack. If he's cranky, he's certainly earned the right to be this way.

Yet, I've come away disappointed, not just with "Drawing Life," but with Gelernter himself. He is a profoundly bitter man who believes modern society has been ruined not just by the Unabomber but by the likes of unwed mothers, liberals, lawyers, feminists, intellectuals, working mothers, left-wing journalists, Hillary Clinton, and the usual gang of suspects straight from Rush Limbaugh's enemies list.

Tiresome and unoriginal. Not worth reading.

And David, enough with the kvetching already!

Review Number Two. . .

One of the most powerfully written and elegantly thought out books I have ever read. Should be mandatory reading for every American. I used to think only Vietnam veterans had this kind of sane view of the world after adversity. I was wrong. Buy it, read it, pass it along.

Right. So Gelernter is passing judgment on the great social commons known as the Internet, is he?

I'll pass, thanks.

-FL

Your bigotry is costing you much (-1, Troll)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31398174)

I thought it might help to explain the kind of filters Mr. Gelerter views the world through and thus help one decide whether his little treatise on the Internet is worth anything.

Ironically, Gelernter has a message anticipating your response in point 34:

The Internet today is, after all, a machine for reinforcing our prejudices. The wider the selection of information, the more finicky we can be about choosing just what we like and ignoring the rest. On the Net we have the satisfaction of reading only opinions we already agree with, only facts (or alleged facts) we already know.

You are prejudiced that anyone that makes points that agree with Rush, must be some kind of idiot. After all he does not agree with you philosophically, no matter the domain is not politics but technology. Therefore, his opinion is worthless.

Right. So Gelernter is passing judgment on the great social commons known as the Internet, is he?

No, that's not what he is doing at all. The sad thing is you will never know what he was doing while at the same time congratulating yourself for keeping the purity of your worldview intact.

And that is the real shame, that you would willingly ossify your beliefs instead of exposing yourself to new ideas when possible.

Re:Your bigotry is costing you much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31398306)

[The Internet today is, after all, a machine for reinforcing our prejudices. The wider the selection of information, the more finicky we can be about choosing...]

Indeed - a new free parameter has been thrust upon a world once held to the whims of the information oligarchs... and you agree with Gelerter that this is an UNDESIRABLE development? At a minimum, to the extent your assertion is true, it can at least be revealed and measured in a system allowing for free open information exchange. Intelligent analysis of such patterns would reveal to conscious readers (consumers of information) how to further undo distortions.

To suggest that additional freedom will result in some wholesale detriment to society is to suggest that such freedom should be withdrawn by an oligarch. It really comes down to a decision. Do you want to advocate and fight for freedom, or be a passive subservient to the oligarchs?

Go ahead and make fun (1)

Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397846)

This guy is smarter than you, and he might be right only 10% of the time. I've seen a few ideas of his not gain traction.

He still has you beat.

Have you read anything else he's written, or are you just snarking it up with your ignorance?

Solve 99% by putting every spammer in the slammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31397860)

increasing number of information sources and increasing information flow per source. The first part is harder: it's more difficult to understand five people speaking simultaneously

Only if they force you to listen to them.

Igor from Cell Block 3 says he bought it all and can't wait to prove to his new mates how well their wares worked for him.

Yawn! (1)

HooliganIntellectual (856868) | more than 4 years ago | (#31397866)

Gelernter is going to win the 2010 Ig Nobel for Vacuous Internet Punditry. Your average Facebook user can come up with more insightful takes on new technology than this tired hack.

Grey Ecology (1)

modustollens (1181999) | more than 4 years ago | (#31398036)

Old, a de-inflationary view of the Internet (1)

beachdog (690633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31398106)

His comments about the Internet, while they do seem dated, did push me on to a further view of the Internet.

One of the recent formulations points out that the Internet is so fast and so vast that the resource now in short supply is human attention. I thought about Gelernter's "information streams" and demur: There is data on the Internet that sometimes becomes information in the mind of the beholder. Natural language text processing does only modest specific tasks in a data processing manner. Attention is the thing a human applies to data to reach a state of "readiness to act" that Donald MacKay once defined.

Here is what I suggest is a further view:

                  The Internet is a data transmission medium of revolutionary low cost. There is an abundance of low quality data but the higher levels are stalled due to the shortage of high quality input data. An instance of solving the high quality input data problem is Wikipedia. But symphony music, Building Codes, scientific papers, journals and books are stalled for economic reasons. Our society with it's economic structure is mismatched with the cheap bandwidth and flexibility of the Internet as a publishing solution.

Guessing games (1)

AndrewBC (1675992) | more than 4 years ago | (#31398180)

People who make predictions for the sake of making predictions are only doing so because they lack the required attributes to make their ideas reality, but want the smug satisfaction of thinking they're at least equal to or better than the person that does have those attributes because they thought of it first. If you want to be impressive, predict it and then make it happen (which, by the way, is a good way to be right about your predictions.)

There is a very important problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31398420)

that these "predictions" completely miss.

That problem is that it will be easier than ever to re-write history, or make it disappear altogether. In point number 31, he speaks of historians using the information on the internet to re-construct what happened historically. He implicitly assumes that no one would ever try to tamper with history.

Already today, main stream media organizations (e.g. cnn.com among many, many others) alter their articles after the fact, without even bothering to make note of it.

For example the headline "Republicans Cheat in Elections, Again", is soon changed to "Republicans Cheat in Election", then to "Republicans Accused of Cheating in Election", then "Accusations of Cheating in Election", and finally "Losers Make Accusation of Cheating in Election".

If everything is stored in the cloud, than how can we stop this from happening?

Apple removed copies of the book "Nineteen Eighty-Four" (which, ironically, describes a pre-computer version of this problem) from peoples Kindles. Apple could just as easily have revised the book if they wanted to.

Just think, in the future you could read a sentence, and then as soon as you finish reading it, it could change right before your eyes to say the opposite of what it originally said.

Serious? (1)

Makawity (684480) | more than 4 years ago | (#31398470)

The internet is for porn!

Al Gore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31398534)

Anybody else thinking of Al Gore complainig "nobody takes me cereal!"

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