Freeing the Web from the Browser

the ability to create new links is a privilege granted only to content producers. The vast majority of those interested in a piece of work are merely readers, unable to contribute, only to consume.

.. The degree to which this constrains the Web is hard to overstate. Can we really expect authors to identify all salient connections from a piece of work to the wider Web?

.. One could imagine a system in which multiple sets of links could be associated with a single resource

.. connecting information together becomes a powerful tool available to all rather than a privilege granted only to content producers

.. As it turns out, these ideas aren’t new. In fact, Vannevar Bush pondered the benefits of these kinds of capabilities way back in 1945 in his visionary essay As We May Think.

There is a new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record. The inheritance from the master becomes, not only his additions to the world’s record, but for his disciples the entire scaffolding by which they were erected.Vannevar Bush (As We May Think, 1945)

.. These ideas were also central to a movement within the hypermedia research community from the late ’80s to early ’00s known as open hypermedia.

.. Unlike the WWW, open hypermedia systems make a hard separation between hypermedia structure — such as links and transclusions

.. Links are stored completely separately from the content upon which they are to be displayed, and all hypermedia functionality — including creation of and interaction with links — is exposed via an open protocol implemented by an independent program called the ‘link server’.

..  open hypermedia systems require an astounding amount of design and engineering work, and in return offer benefits of unclear value. 

.. it’s not at all clear if the effort required to move to a potentially better solution is worth the cost.

.. what is really lacking — in my view — is research considering the human factors at play.

..  In the words of Doug Engelbart: “Any possibility for improving the effective utilization of the intellectual power of society’s problem solvers warrants the most serious consideration … man’s problem-solving capability represents possibly the most important resource possessed by a society”.


Why Hyperlinks Are Blue (and Other Quirky Web Origin Stories)

More than any single person, Tim Berners-Lee is responsible for inventing the internet. (sic web)  And blue hyperlinks? He doesn’t even remember who chose the color.

‘There is no reason why one should use color, or blue, to signify links: it is just a default,’ Berners-Lee told a Q&A at the World Wide Web Consortium. ‘I think the first WWW client (WorldWideWeb I wrote for the NeXT) used just underline to represent a link, as it was a spare emphasis form which isn’t used much in real documents.’

.. That jibes with what Ted Nelson, also a net pioneer, remembers. In 1965, he told Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff: ‘Links were visible straps between pages,’ nothing more, and there was no question of what color to make them since ‘color screens were not on the horizon.’

In fact, recalls Berners-Lee, ‘blue came in as browsers went color — I don’t remember which was the first to use blue… My guess is that blue is the darkest color and so threatens the legibility least.’

Climate Change Discussion driven by Model-driven debate

Who to believe?

The real question is — why are readers and decision-makers forced to “believe” anything at all? Many claims made during the debate offered no numbers to back them up. Claims with numbers rarely provided context to interpret those numbers. And never — never! — were readers shown the calculations behind any numbers. Readers had to make up their minds on the basis of hand-waving, rhetoric, bombast.

Imagine if Blinder’s proposal in the New York Times were written like this:

Say we allocate $3.0 billion for the following program: Car-owners who trade in an old car that gets less than 17 MPG, and purchase a new car that gets better than 24 MPG, will receive a $3,500 rebate.

We estimate that this will get 828,571 old cars off the road. It will save1,068 million gallons of gas (or 68 hours worth of U.S. gas consumption.) It will avoid 9.97 million tons CO2e, or 0.14% of annual U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

The abatement cost is $301 per ton CO2e of federal spending, although it’s -$20 per ton CO2e on balance if you account for the money saved by consumers buying less gas.