Alternate history of Gopher web

Tom James @ 12-03-2009

linkRobert Topolski, chief technologist of the Open Technology Initiative suggests that but for a quirk of history we might all be using Gopher instead of Tim Berners-Lee‘s World Wide Web:

By the 1990s, there was just about enough power to allow access to text and image-based files via the internet, and Tim Berners-Lee‘s World Wide Web was born.

But network administrators at the time preferred a streamlined text-only internet service, says Topolski, using something called the Gopher protocol.

He suggested that if those administrators had had access to data filtering technology, like that becoming popular with companies and governments today, they would have used it to exclude Berners-Lee’s invention, and kill off the World Wide Web.

For other glimpses into possible alternate histories of hypertext check out this article in the New York Times about Theodor Holm Nelson’s Project Xanadu. Or even further back check out Memex by hypertext pioneer Vannever Bush.

[from Short Sharp Science][image from James Jordan on flickr]


The Failure of Web 2.0 (with regards to science fiction)

Jonathan McCalmont @ 15-10-2008

This month in Blasphemous Geometries: has the ‘Web 2.0’ phenomenon been a boon to science fiction fandom?

Blasphemous Geometries by Jonathan McCalmont

Or, asks Jonathan McCalmont, has it simply accentuated its slide from intelligent discussion into naked commercialism? And if so, how can we reverse the trend?

Continue reading “The Failure of Web 2.0 (with regards to science fiction)”


Clay Shirky on the cognitive surplus

Tomas Martin @ 29-04-2008

This is one of those awesome videos that really makes the internet amazing. Clay Shirky, author of ‘Here Comes Everybody’, talks at the Web 2.0 Conference earlier this month in the video above. You can also read a text version on his website. It’s been going around most of the blogs for good reason – it’s a brilliant analysis of how until recently we’ve been denying the free time modern life gives us with television and how the internet is beginning to use that untapped free time and mental creativity.

[via Making Light]


MySpace For The Literati

Jeremy Lyon @ 12-07-2007

Splash-LogoThe phrase “jump the shark” has probably jumped the shark, but if I can be indulged in its use one last time, I’ll point out that social software has jumped the shark when you need a MySpace for people to talk about books. Or maybe I’m just cranky about the slickness factor: somehow LibraryThing doesn’t set my teeth on edge in the same way. [mefi]


Democracy2.0 for the UK?

Paul Raven @ 14-06-2007

Interesting news from my side of the pond, in that the UK government has published a report that recommends it begins to engage fully with grassroots web-based activism and user-created communities online. As that article notes, it’ll take a radical change in attitude for it to succeed, but it’s a relief to know that they’re not completely stuck in the 20th Century any more. I’d like to think that my essay on Government 2.0 had something to do with it, but I’m not quite that deluded.