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Could the Web Not be Invented Today?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the no dept.

The Internet 267

An anonymous reader writes " Corante's Copyfight has a piece up about this new column in the Financial Times by James Boyle celebrating (a few days on the early side) the 15th anniversary of Berners-Lee's first draft of a web page . The hook is this question: What would happen if the Web were invented today? From the article: 'What would a web designed by the World Intellectual Property Organisation or the Disney Corporation have looked like? It would have looked more like pay-television, or Minitel, the French computer network. Beforehand, the logic of control always makes sense. Allow anyone to connect to the network? Anyone to decide what content to put up? That is a recipe for piracy and pornography. And of course it is. But it is also much, much more...The lawyers have learnt their lesson now...When the next disruptive communications technology - the next worldwide web - is thought up, the lawyers and the logic of control will be much more evident. That is not a happy thought.'"

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First thing we must do... (5, Funny)

Archeopteryx (4648) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956361)

...we must kill ALL the lawyers.

Re:First thing we must do... (4, Insightful)

flannelboy (344272) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956403)

I think we are overstating Lawyer's ability to figure out what the next "big thing" will actually be. They are usually late to the game, and only in a position to post-sue, rather than preventitive sue.

I think (may be mis stating this) Napster was around for at least a year before the lawyers made their way into court. Of course, that just proves that "better late than never" is also on the lawyers play card.

Lets hope they don't shut down the current web as we know it!

Re:First thing we must do... (3, Insightful)

TetryonX (830121) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956495)

There is no such thing as "preventive suing". You must allow the act to be committed before it can be taken to court. What happened was not that they lawyers were late, it was the RIAA/MPAA/others that were slow to realize that their business model was going to be compromised by p2p; something isn't a threat until its big and in your face. Of course, they were and still are blind to why they've been experiencing a weakened bottom line.

Else there'd be a lot of people being sued for piracy at your 18th birthday since "Well, we figure you'll pirate SOMETIME in the future if you haven't already."

subnote: The RIAA does not take into account that consumer spending was shifted after the stock market's y2k-bubble burst. Therefore their entire belief that 'p2p is the devil and is causing us to lose money' is moot because they were going to lose anyways- people could not afford to spend as much money (if at all) as they used to on CDs/other merchandise. Therefore they would have experienced a relatively same fall in their overall bottom line, which then they would have found something else to convieniently blame it on. I know many people who lost at least 30% of their yearly income because of the y2k-burst and no longer could afford to buy cds or any other useless crap.

Stop giving them ideas. (1)

Pichu0102 (916292) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956443)

That kinda thing is going to give someone an idea to try to sue the internet and have the entire thing shut down because it causes violent behavior.

Re:Stop giving them ideas. (1)

Punboy (737239) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956678)

You're telling the parent not to give them any ideas, and yet you just spelled it out for them. Smart one, numbnuts :-p

Re:First thing we must do... (0)

jalet (36114) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956511)

Why is this rated as "Funny" ?

This should be rated as "Insightful" instead.

All in jest I know... (3, Insightful)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956556)

... but lawyers represent the rule of law. If you've ever been in a country that doesn't have lawyers, you understand the humor in that "Oh, I think we want to keep these proceedings as pleasant as possible" comment from Pleasantville [wikipedia.org].

Re:First thing we must do... (1, Interesting)

whereiswaldo (459052) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956573)

I hope someday people can look back and say "boy, that was stupid! We used to put people in power to interpret what they thought was right and wrong on any given day and many, many more people to advise citizens on what they thought those with the judging power would agree to on any given day". Isn't that what it really comes down to?

Using such an ambiguous language as human language (English, or whatever) seems like a silly idea. Computer language - something with very clear syntax rules - is the way to go.
I can't tell you how many times at work someone will hide behind a stupid "that's not what I meant" argument when clearly they said something else. Human language sucks for accuracy and accountability.

I just thought (3, Funny)

krajo (824554) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956368)

of a great new way to share stuff on the net anonimously ! Wait a sec there's someone knocking on my front door. Be right back... "And in related news, inventor found lynched by a mob of record executives. Now sports."

Thanks Tim! (5, Informative)

DDiabolical (902284) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956373)

It's completely down to Tim Berners Lee that the internet is a free and open as it currently is. Preceding the Linux or the GNU, he was a real hacker creating something that he couldn't have known would change the world. He did it without profit in mind and as such it's been allowed to flourish.

Sure, the military may have created the fundamentals, but Tim was the first to put them to good use :P

Re:Thanks Tim! (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956415)

And lest we forget, IRC and Usenet contained the seedy underbelly of the Internet *long* before the Web was thought of.

Hell, Veronica was a slut for Archie. They also liked to use Gophers in their sex games, I heard.

Re:Thanks Tim! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956425)

> Preceding the Linux or the GNU,

I don't think so, GNU was founded in 1984

Re:Thanks Tim! (1)

DDiabolical (902284) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956482)

Tim started work on the WWW in 1980.

Re:Thanks Tim! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956557)

Damn.. you mean it took more than *10 years* to make something as simple as HTTP and the first basic HTML rules?

Re:Thanks Tim! (4, Insightful)

sleeper0 (319432) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956437)

Tim did a good thing for sure, but it was hardly unusual for things for the internet to be written without profit in mind - it would have been crazy at the time to think there was any money to be made there outside of services. And you might want to check your timeline, tons of people were using GNU software back when USENET, UUCP and 56k leased lines ruled the day.

Re:Thanks Tim! (1)

Max von H. (19283) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956665)

tons of people were using GNU software back when USENET, UUCP and 56k leased lines ruled the day.

You might want to check your timeline, 14.4kbps ruled the day back then. ;) And that was fast! I prolly still got an old Hayes modem collecting dust in some closet from back then.

56k only came after the WWW took off, circa 1993-94. And there were 2 competing chipsets then, Rockwell's V56 and US Robotics X2.

Disruptive technologies can't be controlled. (4, Insightful)

tonywong (96839) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956377)

Just remember that networking was not a new phenomenom before the web.

We had Compuserve, Prodigy, Bix, eWorld, and probably a dozen other big ones that I can't recall. All of them got steam rolled by the internet because it was so 'disruptive'. One of the properties of being disruptive means upheaval and loss of a certain amount of control.

Perhaps google will introduce the next phase of communications through wireless gateways that are free, and put cell phone providers in the category of technological has beens...who really knows what will work and what will fail until it is done?

Re:Disruptive technologies can't be controlled. (4, Informative)

sleeper0 (319432) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956410)

Agreed. Why on earth wouldn't http and html be invented today? Only because possibly the niche is already filled. Does a would be inventor have to run their protocol by the property lawyers or disney before it gets popular now? Someone should inform Bram Cohen. I'm pretty sure the printing press, telegraph, radio, television, telephones and more were all disruptive technologies for some reason or another in their day. Thinking we've hit some kind of wall isn't looking very hard at the issue.

Re:Disruptive technologies can't be controlled. (1)

ankarbass (882629) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956422)

The "island" services were expensive and really nothing more than national bulletin boards. The mistake they made was simply not providing good access to the internet quickly enough. They all had the infrastructure but simply didn't react quickly enough to demand. AOL would have went the way of the dodo too but they must have got some great deal on bulky floppy disks cause they sent out a shitload of them and managed to save themselves.

Re:Disruptive technologies can't be controlled. (3, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956436)

I had BBS's, and FidoNet (along with a few more obscure ones).

    We had fairly established, while unregulated networks. I won't say communication was fast, but it was there. I don't really need to review the wonderful capabilities of BBS's. Probably 25% of the folks who read here were users when BBS's were big.

    Could the internet be reinvented? Sure. But, like any large platform, it started small. The next Intranet is being built by a half dozen teenage kids in their darkend bedrooms around the world. It isn't anything now, but will be the biggest thing the world has seen.

Re:Disruptive technologies can't be controlled. (2, Funny)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956644)

"The next Intranet is being built by a half dozen teenage kids in their darkend bedrooms around the world. It isn't anything now, but will be the biggest thing the world has seen."
*spits out jolt*

Re:Disruptive technologies can't be controlled. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956531)

Obviously someone or they wouldn't bother trying it.

Remember (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956386)

Without the invention of the "Web" the world of today wouldn't be as it is. Thinking about the question at hand can lead nowhere since noone knows what a world without the Web would look like today.

An idea (0)

colmore (56499) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956387)

Look, I'm not saying an armed anarchist revolution right friggin' now is the *best* solution, I'm just saying it's *a* solution.

Re:An idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956433)

The only revolts that have a chance are the organized ones, and one doesn't really see organized anarchist revolts very often. ;-)

Solution?! (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956493)

Name one problem an armed anarchist revolution would actually solve.

No, not a problem that anarchy would obfuscate behind an even bigger problem. Something anarchy would actually solve.

See, I don't think anarchy even qualifies as "a" solution--just another even worse problem.

Example: there are armed anarchist revolutions going on in Iraq and France right now today. What problems are they solving? In what way are they "a" solution?

Re:Solution?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956551)

Name one problem an armed anarchist revolution would actually solve.

Well, for one, it might tip the male-to-female ratio more in our favor for a generation.

Re:Solution?! (3, Informative)

Cally (10873) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956574)

Example: there are armed anarchist revolutions going on in Iraq and France right now today
No, there aren't. Go and read up on the real anarchist revolutions that happened in Barcelona in the late 30s. George Orwell's "Homage to Catalonia" would be a good start.

google print (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956588)

print.google has it, but you have to login (your gmail login works). I guess that's kinda cool, it sucks when ppl link to amazon.

fuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956611)

nevermind. I didn't find it after all, or this other 'bout 50 year old book. I guess copyrights are for longer than I thought or the other author was a UK guy, I dunno about Orwell - what country he's from.
Why you gotta drive to a library to read?

Re:Solution?! (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956584)

Name one problem an armed anarchist revolution would actually solve.

It would make me feel better.
Why does everything always have to be about you?

The internet routes around... (1)

georgewilliamherbert (211790) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956390)

...unnecessary external influences.

Not always, but people invent new modes of communicating and sharing data regularly, and thinking that other interests would drive the evolution of a new medium ignores that ... we still are inventing things (P2P) and generally no, they aren't.

It's an impossible scenario (5, Insightful)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956391)

First, if there were no internet and someone were to "invent" it today, it would be very similar to the Internet that was created years ago. It wouldn't have much content aside from a few indexes and maybe some scientific or technical content.

If the internet were created today, none of us would be online. We'd still be doing all the tedious tasks like making phone calls to clients and friends, and using hardbound encyclopedias and journals to find information. Newspapers would be making a ton of money selling ad space and subscriptions. Television would probably have a lot more content related to the writers' and producers' interests rather than based on viewer feedback.

In short, if the Internet were invented today, it would not have reached us mere mortals yet. And there is no reason to think that an Internet created in 2005 would be significantly different or more advanced than the Internet created in 1974.

The Internet itself has changed the rules of intellectual property. Without it, the media conglomerates would not be in the tizzy that they currently are in. It is precisely because of the ease of broadcast that the Internet gives us that we have media content creators trying to find ways to use the law to restrict users. In very real terms, the Internet that we are talking about here is the one created 1999 by Shawn Fanning. Until the arrival of Napster, Internet piracy was a drop in the bucket. Now it is one of the most often used features of the Internet, and it is because of that initial software that media companies sat up and took notice of all the copyrighted bits being transmitted right under their noses.

Re:It's an impossible scenario (1)

Jshadias (897066) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956454)

That's besides the point. The article is asking you to consider how the internet would turned out if corporations and the government were already fully aware of its effects.

Re:It's an impossible scenario (4, Insightful)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956515)

Oh, very differently of course. But at that point the article becomes so orthogonal to reality as to be completely meaningless and inane.

I mean, the article is asking you to consider how a massively disruptive new communications technology would be developed, if we understood its implications in advance. The very first thing to become obvious when you consider this is that one of the fundamental principles of disruptive developments is that we do not and cannot understand them in advance.

Might as well write an article asking us to consider what sex would be like if we started out by having the orgasm, and then moved on to intimate touching. Easy enough to consider, but so far removed from reality as to be an exercise whose brevity was exceeded only by its pointlessness. Kind of like the exercise being proposed here.

Re:It's an impossible scenario (2, Funny)

waferhead (557795) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956564)

"Might as well write an article asking us to consider what sex would be like if we started out by having the orgasm, and then moved on to intimate touching. Easy enough to consider, but so far removed from reality as to be an exercise whose brevity was exceeded only by its pointlessness. Kind of like the exercise being proposed here."

Premature ejaculation is a medical condition, you insensitive clod!

Re:It's an impossible scenario (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956458)

The Internet itself has changed the rules of intellectual property.

Becoming bitstreams made copyrightable works act like the ideas they are in theory; "intellectual property" is therefore exposed as an awful misnomer, I assert, because ideas do not fit the property model very well [slashdot.org].

Re:It's an impossible scenario (1)

JimB (9642) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956466)

I agree it is an impossible scenario, but not exactly for the reasons you state. This guy was talking about the WWW. NOT the Internet. I, and a LOT of folks I know were using the Internet (ARPANet?) in 1986. I, and many folks like me (I am NOT a pioneer) were transferring their latest revisions to 'cool' code around via UUCP. It was SLOW, but it worked. I don't think that Microsoft had yet come up with the AVI file format, so TV & Movies were not threatened (yet), but ANY code was up for grabs. In 1992, NeXT was already out there, and sending a FAX was as simple as creating & sending an email. Smart folks were already depending less on the phone. [Like the CIA, and MANY stock trading companies.]

Re:It's an impossible scenario (1)

rollingcalf (605357) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956483)

Software patents would have prevented the web from emerging today if it didn't already exist. It might have still come into existence, but only as an expensive proprietary protocol/service like Compuserve was.

Re:It's an impossible scenario (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956667)

Software patents would have prevented the web from emerging today if it didn't already exist. It might have still come into existence, but only as an expensive proprietary protocol/service like Compuserve was.

It's a chicken vs Egg thing. The US is currently so litigous because of the internet, so if the Internet did not exsisst and I just invented it and had militry.gov support. It would all happen all over again.

What I'm hearing you say is... (1)

greenguy (162630) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956540)

If the Internet did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it.

Apologies to Voltaire.

Re:It's an impossible scenario (1)

thej1nx (763573) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956546)

First, if there were no internet and someone were to "invent" it today, it would be very similar to the Internet that was created years ago.

I beg to humbly differ.

If there was no internet and someone were to invent it today, they would immediately run off to patent it, and that will be all we will get to hear about it.

What!? (1, Redundant)

SwedeGeek (545209) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956392)

The Web was actually invented by someone(s)??? Damn, I thought it was always just... you know... there. I'm gonnna have to tell my friends about this.

Re:What!? (5, Funny)

Simon Garlick (104721) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956506)

I just wish the rest of the world would show some goddamn RESPECT for the fact that fifteen years ago Tim Berners-Lee, AN AMERICAN, invented the Web while working at CERN, you guessed it, IN AMERICA.

Re:What!? (1)

thej1nx (763573) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956586)

Hey, the Indians called.

They want their zero back from your binary system. :)

P.S. The Britishers are asking about their railway stuff.

Re:What!? (0)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956685)

Hmmm, CERN, you mean the European Organization for Nuclear Research? Funny what a little google can do, ain't it? Besides, Tim was born in London, and graduated from Oxford... at best he might be a naturalised citizen.

Somebody doesn't get it (1)

lheal (86013) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956398)

A disruptive technology thwarts all attempts to stop it.

The web, both its Light and its Darkness, is an unavoidable result of the transistor.

Trying to control disruptive technology puts you squarely on the wrong side of history. The only thing to do is to spot the inexorable trend and adapt to it.

Free software is next.

Or else, global Bird Flu. Hard to tell.

Essentially stupid article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956409)

Firstly, hindsight is 50/50.

Secondly, the FT commentary is the most lame counterfactual history of the Net I've layed eyes on. No need for anyone to read it. The meat of the article is the rhetorical questions that were qouted in /. submission. There is no attempt to actually compare nor flesh out scenarios of suppression of future technology by the dastardly lawyers. I can foresee the rest of this /. comments to be FUD and political soap box rants.

Thirdly asking negative sentences like "could x not be done?" is idiotic, confusing and rarely illuminating. How about asking a better question next time by submitters?

Those were the days (0)

gazmercer (893323) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956412)

If the Internet was invented now, that means I would still be buying pRon in magazine form.

Causality (0)

miyako (632510) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956414)

I think that, while it may be an interesting intellectual exercise to demonstrate the problems with laws today, a fundamental problem with imagining what the web would be like if it were created in the current social, economic and political climate is that many of the things we look at think might change the way the Internet was rolled out have come about because of the mass use of the Internet. In other words, if the Internet were invented today I think that it would happen in much the same way because we would not have had a chance to see the effects of the Internet and react to it.
To go further with this however, I think that this can be extended to future communcation technologies as well. The laywers and businesses that hold a stake in keeping control of media, and the law makers who have a stake in limiting communication among the masses have a tendancy to be reactionary. Because of this I think that as technologies are developed they are nutured by a community which I think overall strives to keep the technology unencombered by corporate or political interests. By the time any technology has gained enough momentum to become the target of the governments and lawyers it will have, in general, reached a critical mass such that it becomes very difficult to stop.
I think that can be seen in things like Voice over IP. By the time Governments got around to trying to figgure out how to regulate it and the traditional TelCos began to try to stop it in favor of their own intererests it had developed to the point where it would no longer have been realistically possible for those organizations to step in and bastardize the technology into something that fit in with their previous ideas.
While many complain of the slowness of buisnesses to adopt new technologies as they are developed (for example, the movie industry's reluctance to accept movie download services) I think that in the end it is a benefit in that it allows the technology to be developed outside of the interests of those groups.
Of course that is not to say that these organizations have no hand in shaping the technology as it matures. The Web for example has, in it's maturity, grown from a largely cooperative network of webpages hosted by individuals to a more passive link to corporate advertising and shopping. However, as existing technologies become mainstream and grow to fit the agendas of large organizations the developers of new technologies are new, more "pure" sources of information and communication- and with each iteration of technology and corporate and government attempts to shape it to their will these groups also begin to bend to the possibilities and design of the technologies that have been developed. Even as the Web becomes more like Television, Television becomes more like the Web with Movies on Demand, live TV schedules, targetted ads, and things like Myth TV.
Corporations and Governments are not static and immortal beings unto themselves, their policies are created by people and as the newer generations grow into a culture based around these new and developing technologies the next generation of policies will be built to adhere to this generations technological ideals- even as the next generation of technology is built to subvert or assist the agendas of these groups.

Re:Causality DAT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956688)

I can think of one prominent example of a case where established stakeholders recognized the potential of a new communications/data technology and acted to mold the development of the new technology according to the interests of those established stakeholders.

The example is the case of DAT -Digital Audio Tape. DAT might possibly have served need, that years later, has been fulfilled by recordable CDs and Ipods. Unfortunately established stakeholders realized that relatively inexpensive lossless recording that DAT systemds made possible was contrary to their own interests. These stakeholders saw to it that DAT technology was relegated high-end "professional" niche markets, unavailable in any practical sense to the average consumer. I would venture to guess that if the recordable CD had originally been marketed as an audio backup technology (rather than a data storage technology) that the CDR as we know it today might not be available ( or the Canadian model of "pay in advance for the music we ASSUME you will record" might be the world-wide standard).

The internet wouldn't exist, PERIOD. (2, Insightful)

MaXiMiUS (923393) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956421)

.. if even so much as one babbling lawyer was told about the possibilities when it was being made. Assuming said lawyer's head didn't implode.

Could the Web not be invented today. (1)

JimB (9642) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956426)

Interesting take. I would bet that something very much like the WWW would have come about. Sir Berners-Lee may not have thought of it, but someone would have. In 1992 we were PRIMED for 'a better way'. Unmoderated 'News' already sucked. The moderated groups would have been threatened if the content of the 'alt' groups tried to move there. R.A.D. was already a concept. The foundations (or stepping stones) of 'hypertext' were already there. Sir Berners-Lee did not invent (like Copernicus), so much as brilliantly put together (like Einstein) the WWW. It would have taken a little longer, and would probably be noticeably different, but the end result would have been very close. And you can forget about the Big Boys coming up with this concept. the Internet, such as it was, was not attractive to most companies. The concept of 'sharing' was not really in the minds of 'the common folk'. It would take a CERN, NCSA, PARC, Bell Labs, or IBM research to even think in that directon. And they all were, more or less, at that time.

So I don't really agree with him on this.

When the next disruptive communications technology (1)

loggia (309962) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956439)

When the next disruptive communications technology - the next worldwide web - is thought up, the lawyers and the logic of control will be much more evident. That is not a happy thought.

What are you joking? The lessons learned from the transition from radio to television, movie theaters to Betamax, CDs to MP3s... ...were nothing!! Every single disruption, the media industry says OH MY FREAKING G-D WE ARE DOOMED!!!

And then a few years later, they are making three times more money than they were before.

This is the most ridiculous "theory" I have heard (2, Interesting)

karmaflux (148909) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956440)

...well, at least this week.

The web couldn't be invented today because the lawyers learned their lesson... from the web? I've heard the "hindsight is 20/20" saying, but this is ridiculous. Further, why the hell are they talking about WIPO and the Disney corp? It took the brightest minds on the planet, found at places like CERN -- and research budgets of an astronomical scale that could only have been bankrolled by government agencies like the US Army -- to get where we got with the internet and the web. I have never even heard a suggestion that something like this could ever have come from a pile of douchebags like WIPO.

After reading this article, I wish I had found it in a magazine, so I could have the pleasure of throwing it in the trash. This is garbage.

Re:This is the most ridiculous "theory" I have hea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956572)

It took the brightest minds on the planet, found at places like CERN -- and research budgets of an astronomical scale that could only have been bankrolled by government agencies like the US Army -- to get where we got with the internet and the web

One should differenciate when talking about the Internet and the Web in this case. The 'web' is just http+html .. it's a very smart idea, but it's not a particular complex idea as soon as the idea is formed. The web isn't very complicated... and I would think that most research is financed by corporations.

If we start talking about networks, then we're in a whole other league. IP is simple enough, but the routing protocols, bgp, ospf and so forth. The underlying physical layer with all it's protocols... This is where the true research has been done. This isn't just a simple presentation layer .. it's where the true goodies is. :)

Without the internet (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956442)

1*You might have to get the Onion in ya know.. actual magazine form..
2*Instead of downloading illegal music people would just steal from the stores and run..
3*Ipods? heck no, we would go to the underground illegal music collection from #2 where there would be a copy for each customer willing to buy.
4*You would not be reading this headline

It's time to look forward, not back. (2, Interesting)

jrpessimist (928674) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956461)

The Web is fast becoming a legacy platform. About now, we have an opportunity to design a new platform from scratch and get it adopted. Let's learn from the mistakes of the Web. Which are: [blogspot.com]
  • Everything is free, yet nothing is free. (Compensation paradox)
  • We don't know who you are, yet there is no privacy. (Identity paradox)
  • Write multiple times, yet it still doesn't run everywhere. (Compatibility paradox)
  • Code goes over the network, yet it's not mobile. (Boundary paradox)
  • The Web is not decentralized enough, yet it is not centralized enough. (Responsibility paradox)
If you are interested, read Abandon the Web! [blogspot.com] Your attention and feedback is greatly appreciated.

Nyet (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956476)

This is a nice gedanken experiment [jargon.net], but while WIPO or Disney or HP or Microsoft or some other entities that we think of as 'evil corporations' would have had the creativity and intelligence to come up with the WWW, ultimately the success rests on who is willing to implement it. People implemented Berners-Lee's shiny new protocol because it was simple, unencumbered, free and open. It carried no financial, legal, emotional or technical baggage. And it made sense. And it worked transparenly over an already popular infrastructure (HTTP/TCP). It was extensible. That would not happen with something that emerges from the bowels of a megamultinationalcorporation, I think.

Think of open source and free software - in a sense it spreads the same ways.

Too Late To Stop Mentifex Open-Source Seed AI (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956481)

Disruptive technology [wikipedia.org] means that all bets are off and nobody could have predicted in advance what is about to happen now.

Technological Singularity [caltech.edu] is the ultimate, ne plus ultra disruptive technology so currently unimagineable that even science fiction fails to describe what will happen beyond the few clues that we we see awakening around us.

Seed AI [sourceforge.net] is the first harbinger of Open Source Artificial Intelligence metastasizing and propagating itself all over the 'Net.

Recursive self-improvement [sl4.org] of the AI Minds leads to a hard takeoff [sl4.org] of super-intelligent artificial intelligence.

PC-based, AI-ready robots [914pcbots.com] are already being manufactured and pre-ordered by the early adopters of the disruptive AI technology.

The Mind.Forth AI Engine [scn.org] leads the pack of Robot AI Minds germinating and speciating from Seed AI [sourceforge.net] into Singularity AI [sourceforge.net].

Artificial General Intelligence [agiri.org] is already unpreventable [acm.org] and unstoppable [sl4.org].

Have to disagree with the write-up. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956487)

When the next disruptive communications technology - the next worldwide web - is thought up, the lawyers and the logic of control will be much more evident.

By definition, a disruptive technology has to be something that is radically unlike anything that's come before. It's something that will be blindingly obvious in hindsight, and it will have a clear path from basic technologies -- probably something that's a quaint curiosity at the moment -- to the ultimate, disruptive form that it takes; but the jump from quaint curiosity to disruptive technology will not be an obvious one, until after the event.

This means that any form of control will have to be tacked on after the event ... and that's something that's very hard to do. Commercial interests may have taken over large swathes of the Web, but there's still plenty of room for 'subversives' to play, for example.

Anything with a large degree of control up front will not be able to get the momentum necessary to be disruptive. Again, this is virtually by definition. That's progress: you can slow it down, or try to distort it to your own ends, but in the end, it keeps on, somehow slipping through the cracks in the net. And this is a good thing.

Abandon Hope? Not Just Yet (3, Informative)

CornfedPig (181199) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956491)

The lovely thing about truly disruptive technologies is that, at least initially, they are seen as not-very-good solutions to second-tier problems (here's Wikipedia on Chistensen's definition of a disruptive technology: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruptive_technology [wikipedia.org]). This feature (not a bug!) can give good ideas the time to get a few steps out of the cradle before incumbent industries, their lawyers, and the political powers-that-be in their employ try to strangle them. It isn't much, but sometimes a little bit of a head start is all you can hope for.

Bull crap, new technology wouldn't matter. (1)

ageoffri (723674) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956504)

How would a new method of mass communication be controlled by an existing company or even corporate style?

It woudn't! The thing about the internet and the www is that it grew out of research and academic use first. The corporations didn't even pay attention to the existence of a new media until years after it had been invented. I remember having discussions about the commericalization of the web in the 95/96 time frame. And this was what 5 or so years after the html had been devoloped and 20 or 30 years after the internet had been started.

The question that should have been proposed is what would have happened if media companies had an idea of the potentional of something like the Internet and web site, how would they have influced early desgings?

Lawyers are, in general, the most immoral. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956508)

In the U.S., my experience is that lawyers are, in general, the most immoral, amoral people.

I had a friend who graduated in the top 5 of his class at an important law school. His entire approach was that he was learning how to break the law safely.

You have to take the bad with the good (5, Funny)

dadioflex (854298) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956517)

Sure there's porn and piracy on the Web but there's probably a downside too.

Re:You have to take the bad with the good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956612)


Pay television (2, Interesting)

Ashtead (654610) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956522)

Pay for content. The revolution with the Web is that there is no limitations or anyone controlling the contents there. It used to be, with television, radio, and books, that only the select few producers were able to reach a large audience. Now this has changed to be determined by what you, YOU the reader and potential producer, have to say, and whether, or rather to what extent anyone's interested in it. Now anyone can read, and thanks to Google, anyone can find something they're looking for (as in it may not be what they want, but it will be what they need).

Had the web been created today by any media corporation or association of these, it would have been just another variation on the pay-for-content and "We produce, you consume" theme that is the bread and butter of the media companies today. They do not want to have any competition. And they do not want to surrender their control of the distribution channels.

Remember (1)

Crouty (912387) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956524)

I'm sure some of you can remember how the internet used to be 1994. Web pages were few and mostly from colleges and college students. No ads, no javascript, no flash, almost no commercial content whatsoever.

The internet was already there and it was ok the way it was. Then came more sites, search engines, Netscape, Windows 95, cheaper and faster private internet access. And with it all the vultures who came to sell things over the internet and all the lawyers who came to get their piece of the cake.

Then came kiddy porn, trojans, 9/11, and politicians trying to regulate the Net. There is no way it could have developed with these clueless powermongers aware of it. The IP protocol would do a secure handshaking between every hop and every packet would come with its hop history in a secure format.

The net would still exist, but bandwidth would be an expensive good and content providers would charge you for every crappy page the put online.

Most likely the same... (1)

NidStyles (794619) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956530)

Considering that most of the world property rights letigation is the direct results of trade on the internet, I would say it would have all been the saem. The technology would be a lot different, and Microsoft would most likely have an even worse operating system. Linux obviously wouldn't exist.

Al Gore in no longer in the Senate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956548)

so, no! Neither the Web nor the Internet could be invented today.

Electricity (2, Insightful)

Dracos (107777) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956561)

If electricity were discovered today, it would be deemed too dangerous for the public.

"We the institutions" (2, Interesting)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956563)

Corporations are the kiss of death for these things.

In the beginning there was the PLATO network which had a working prototype designed for mass-market which would have amortized itself within 5 years easily at $40/month service, including the rental of a bit-mapped graphics, touch screen, plasma displays. It had realtime multiuser games, even some multiuser 3D first person shooter games [geocities.com], as well as email, discussion fora (the origin of Ozzie's "Notes") and the ability for anyone to write programs for anyone else to run via the network. A single Cyber 760 benchmarked out at several thousand simultaneous users with 1/4 second response time. "Management" decided to focus on the higher profit margin corporate education market.

So I left PLATO and took up position as architect for the authoring system for the mass-market videotex experiment conducted by AT&T and Knight-Ridder News called "Viewtron" -- a service of the joint-venture company, Viewdata Corporation of America. They had done market research which showed that the thing people most wanted was discussion. Having been from PLATO this was no surprise and indeed it was obvious to me people wanted to be able to provide publications and software services to the public. But when I presented an architecture whose primary discipline was to treat the desktop computer as the host system nearest the user (ie: P2P in 1982) I was told by a decision-maker that "we see videotex as 'we the institutions providing you the consumer with information and services'" Yes that was what he said. He may have been trying to get my goat but that is in fact the direction they took things. In any event I was about to be told by the corporate authorities that my P2P telecomputing architecture, which would have provided a dynamically downloaded Forth graphics protocol in 1983 evolving into a distributed Smalltalk-like environment beginning around 1985, would be abandoned due to a corporate commitment to stick with Tandem Computers as the mainframe vendor -- a choice which I had asserted would not be adequate. (At least Postscript survived.) I was subsequently offered the head telecomputing software position at Prodigy by IBM and turned it down when they indicated they would not support my architecture either, due to a committment to limit merchant access to their network to only those who had a special status with the service provider (IBM/CBS/Sears). The distributed Smalltalk system was specifically designed to allow the sort of grassroots commerce now emerging in the world wide web. (Now that via AJAX people recognize JavaScript is similar to the Self programming language and the Common Lisp Object System there is some resurrection of the original vision.) But this wasn't in keeping with IBM's philosophy at that time since they had yet to be humbled by Bill Gates coup but already Gates had locked in his position as the bottleneck between Moore's Law and software by retaining ownership of MS DOS while it was being distributed on IBM's hardware.

Lest people think the government is the ultimate savior in all this -- I did make a run at developing this sort of service on my own nickle using PC hardware but was squashed by the U.S. government when it provided UUCP/Usenet service, via MILnet, to a XENIX-based competitor in San Diego and would not offer me the same subsidy. MILnet was, by law, not for public access. Rather it was exclusively for military use. My complaints to DoD investigators resulted in continual "We're looking into it." replies. By that time Usenet was taking off and I couldn't get a seed market to finance any further work.

What Berners-Lee did was admirable in that he aimed lower -- for the low hanging fruit of simple document presentation. The sacrifice of P2P was, however a bit much to sacrifice. I still think that should have remained the "primary discipline". Things are slowly recovering though.

It would easily be invented today (4, Insightful)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956566)

Tim Berners-Lee was working at CERN in Switzerland when he invented the web. There would be absolutely no problem inventing it there today.

Perhaps it would have been much slower to penetrate the US market, but that would not mean it couldn't exist basically as it does now.

There have been recent articles here about how the US is slipping into a technical dark age. This is just one more example of how that's true.

I doubt libraries could be invented now (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956578)

I know libraries started in ancient times. I'm not an expert on the subject, but I don't think the idea of public lending libraries has been around all that long. I doubt they would come about if civilization had to create them now.

Minitel.. a computer network ... (1)

Seb C. (5555) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956579)

just a few word about that :
1) Minitel was never even close to a computer. It was an "advanced" terminal (advanced meaning more advanced than a simple phone : B&W 25x40 screen is nowhere close to "advanced" right now)
2) The Minitel network is now close to death in france, thanks to the web. No one keep on putting money in it, there are just a few historical service than crawl along for the ones that are not blessed by the ADSL fairy's magic wand)

Bulletin Boards and CompuServ (2, Informative)

catwh0re (540371) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956596)

The internet is an extension of ideas that we already had. Bulletin boards allowed small groups of people to interact, particularly with things like MOOs/MUDs. Then CompuServe was alot like the internet before the internet really took off, despite being a commercially owned entity, and yes it was a bit like pay tv.

Yes: Disruptive Technology (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956598)

A disruptive Technology is one that "disrupts" the currently technology. Amazon.com was "disruptive technology" to strip malls. Strip malls were "disruptive technology" to department stores. And department stores were "disruptive technologies" to the old corner stores. In this sense, a WWW could be invented today. The majority of the population (including lawyers) can't predict disruptive technologies - so their creation can't be prevented.

Gopher (1)

Botia (855350) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956605)

Before the web we had gopher, which was pretty much text based.

On another note, it is interesting that this document does not validate. There's an extra tag in there. No wonder it's hard to get web developer to write valid HTML.

One fun point (1)

renoX (11677) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956621)

Considering that the web is a 'recipe for pornography' while the minitel isn't is a mistake: in truth FT the company operating the minitel was making a big part of the money with 'sex sites'.

Maybe this was possible only in France where sex is not too much a problem..

It probably helped that at the time, the sex was very abstract on the minitel: only crude drawings and text interaction, no photograph.

Apart from this inacurracy, I agree with the article.

Is this a trick question? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13956633)

OF COURSE the internet could not have come into being in this current political environment. In fact, had the Terry-Gilliam's-Brazil US Government of today been in power in the 1980's desktop computers wouldn't even be allowed in the hands of the public. While we're at it, books, women's votes, social security, civil rights, and liberation of slaves, not to mention the constitution, Bill of Rights, and all the amendments wouldn't have been allowed. Ignorant peasants whose every thought can be filtered through three or four kinds of analog media are ever so much easier to control with an iron fist in a steel glove than these damn hip modern smartass bastards that go and READ stuff and THINK FOR THEMSELVES! It sure is a good thing we can suppress all that freedom by using church and culture to convince people that thinking and education are unpatriotic, evil, and ugly. That way, the pain-in-the-asses who ask too many questions will die out in another generation and leave the ploaccid sheep who can be convinced to give up the rest of their rights, while the US keeps control of the web away from the rest of the world, in case any upstart countries get any funny liberty ideas before they're properly enslaved.

And you people are looking forward to it, like the sheep that you are!

Blah, the egg believes the chicken could exist (1)

ulbador (541826) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956650)

We are exactly where we would have been otherwise. The web became a view-port in which we arrange the content, but not ultimately how we see it. At the time, the Internet at large was begging to come out, and had things gone different, maybe we would have been viewing the content in a manner which ultimately didn't rely on how "perty" it looks, but rather what it does. Mr. Lee had a fantastic idea, but it was the short term goal that built the end-system. IMHO the web is broken, but the result, is now the reason

Actually a Very Happy Thought (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 8 years ago | (#13956664)

That is actually one of the most heartening things I have heard in a long time. The only thing that will make people sit up and do something about the increasingly troubling grip of corporate intellectual property on our society.

A future where IP eventually stops progress and would ultimately then be reformed sounds far better than one where we are insidiously subject to more and more control with corporations deciding not to give us internet porn and other disruptive and disliked social changes.
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