Ted Nelson: computer pioneer
and technology philosopher.
book “Computer Lib”
collection of texts, notes, drawings published in 1974
teaches computer tinkering and programming
flip side: “Dream Machines”
visions on future computer applications
first written mention of
hypertext I mean non-sequential writing—text that
branches and allows choices to the reader,
best read at an interactive screen.
As popularly conceived, this is a series of text chunks
connected by links which offer the reader different pathways.
Literary Machines (1980)
Nelson’s ideas were bigger than the Web,
but not necessarily as realistic.
published in 2014 as “a working deliverable”
…on top of the Web
Douglas Engelbart: visionary inventor,
human–computer interaction pioneer.
invented the computer mouse
early developer of hypertext
strong proponent of computer networking
brought the revolutionary
Mother of All Demos
Most of Engelbart’s ideas never
directly reached the real world.
The invention of the mouse was sold to Apple.
His group disbanded in the 1970s.
The world might have never heard of hypertext…
Tim Berners-Lee invented
the World Wide Web.
Berners-Lee was working at CERN.
He drafted “
Information Management: A Proposal”.
first Web page came online in 1990.
The major revolution was that
it was accessible from anywhere in the world and
it could link to pages anywhere in the world.
CERN decided to make the Web
available royalty-free in 1993.
Which is the Internet
and which is the Web?
a global communication network interconnecting devices
an information space on top of the Internet
Internet is to Web what
the telephone network is to fax.
The Internet is a communication network
between different machines in the world.
The Web is a layer of interlinked resources
accessible through the Internet.
The Internet contains more
than just the Web.
on the Internet but not on the Web
on the Web but not on the Internet
The Web is perhaps
the most popular application of the Internet.
Billions of documents from all over the world
at everyone’s fingertips, often free.
access without leaving home
access without leaving your car, train, or airplane
Are we surfing the Internet or surfing the Web?
The difference is difficult to explain with
a well-known Web browser called “ Internet Explorer” 😉
Most people don’t understand or care about the difference…
but you should!
Quartz / LIRNEasia
With the Web’s client–server architecture,
nobody needs to know about others.
Servers don’t need to know about clients.
Servers do not keep application state.
Clients don’t need to know about other servers.
Clients follow links from one server to another.
Servers don’t need to know about other servers.
Servers only maintain their own outgoing links.
Web linking is
as one-way links embedded in documents.
inside of HTML documents (not shared)
outside of HTML documents (shareable)
(fonts, colors, …) media
(images, video, …) scripts
The Web was the only hypertext system
simple enough to scale to the world.
Individual links are allowed to break
so the entire Web does not.
The Web’s operation-system independence
helped accelerate its growth.
HTTP and HTML were OS-independent.
Yet the server and browser were NeXT-specific.
Support for other systems followed in 1992.
gave the Web a broader audience.
It provides compatibility at an unprecedented scale.
The text-based browser
Lynx is still developed and used.
The Web evolved together
with technology (and bandwidth).
1991 text (and links) only
proposal for the
2002 video through the Flash player
Web technologies are standardized
by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
The Web’s architecture makes it hard
to locate specific content.
Since the Web is decentralized,
we cannot possibly know where everything is.
Crawlers from search engines traverse the Web
and create a centralized index of content.
Feeds let you discover new content
on websites you already know.
RSS feed contains the title and summary
of the last entries on a (part of a) website.
specification co-authored by Aaron Swartz
By regularly polling such a feed,
your computer can tell you if there’s news.
no need to search/monitor the entire Web
Machines have only limited possibilities
on the “human” Web.
Browsers are operated by people.
How can we let machines access information?
How can we let machines perform actions?
Web APIs expose (machine-accessible)
functionality of a server to a client.
“Web API” is typically used as a label
for the new generation of “Web services”.
is a software system designed
to support interoperable machine-to-machine interaction
over a network.
Web APIs can be implemented in different ways
and with different technologies.
The number of Web APIs
has grown tremendously since 2000.
number of Web APIs
indexed in ProgrammableWeb
Native online applications
are often powered by Web APIs.
Despite the power of Web applications,
many popular sites have their own app.
“Don’t you want to use our app instead?”
technology or business?
Developers code a website, API,
and mobile app.
Web APIs let machines execute scripts,
but not explore and process content.
Machines do not “know” what Web content means.
Indexing webpages doesn’t imply understanding them.
How can clients make sense of a webpage?
Can we somehow explain what is on there?
Can we help them make our lives easier?
Tim Berners-Lee and others proposed
a vision of intelligent Web agents.
By adding annotations to existing pages,
machines can interpret them and do things for us.
A network of knowledge is created
by linking different parts together.
Don’t know something? Follow its link to look it up!
Our personal devices will combine
data and services on our behalf.
The Semantic Web is a layer
on top of the existing Web.
The Semantic Web layer is
into the existing Web.
Linked (Open) Data aims to bootstrap
the Semantic Web vision.
The early Semantic Web suffered
from a chicken-and-egg problem.
Nobody built applications, because there was no data.
Nobody published data, because there were no apps.
Tim Berners-Lee proposed
: Linked Data
principles to follow to publish data semantically.
Let’s get data out—apps will follow.
Billions of Linked Data facts
are currently published on the Web.
Google, Facebook, and others
endorse usage of semantic annotations.
However, the Semantic Web’s
seems still in the making…
Who needs the Semantic Web when
we have a smartphone in our pockets?
Apple’s Siri and Google Now
process highly specific requests
on the Apple and Google servers.
The Semantic Web is like the Web:
decentralized and democratic.
Understanding the Web should
not only belong to the happy few.
Education evolved together
with the Web.
The free encyclopedia
Wikipedia started in 2001.
freely accessible knowledge for all
Massive Open Online Courses soon followed.
Business evolved together
with the Web.
Pizza Hut accepted online orders already in 1994.
Amazon and many others exploit
the long tail.
niches that were previously too small to be profitable
Communication evolved together
with the Web.
The Web is democratic.
everyone can read information
everyone can write information
Blogs emerged as a medium to spread thoughts.
The “Web 2.0” ideas made many users
transition from consumers to prosumers.
Despite its decentralized architecture,
the Web becomes increasingly centralized.
The Web gives anyone the freedom
to start whichever website they want.
This includes websites that try
to replace the Web.
Having profited mightily from the openness of the Web,
[Zuckerberg] has kicked away the ladder
that elevated him to his current eminence.
Many platforms try to own your data,
and they don’t interoperate.
To use a platform, we
need to hand over our data.
Sharing photo’s with family? Just put them on Facebook!
Social networks form
where you cannot reach one from the other.
like tweets from Facebook. You cannot
follow Facebook accounts on Twitter.
Not only do we need to give away our data,
we need to do so over and over again.
In 2017, Tim Berners-Lee listed
three challenges for the Web.
Taking control of our personal data.
Limiting the spread of misinformation.
Making online political advertising transparent.
Decentralization can help tackle these challenges.
On a fully decentralized Web,
you keep all data you produce.
Every post, comment, and like you make
is stored in your own personal data pod.
You choose your storage provider,
independently of applications you need.
You grant applications access to your data pod,
where they read and write shared data.
They can only access what you explicitly allow them to.
Each piece of data is entered and stored only once.
Aaron is dead.
Wanderers in this crazy world,
we have lost a mentor, a wise elder.
Hackers for right, we are one down,
we have lost one of our own.
Nurturers, carers, listeners, feeders,
we have lost a child.
Let us all weep.
This is not only a tribute to Aaron’s achievements,
it also shows that anyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from,
can make an impact on the Web and thus the world.
Ted Nelson not only says goodbye to his best friend,
but also to an era and a vision.
Note his snarky comments about the Web,
not all of which are accurate.
The Web as I envisaged it,
we have not seen it yet.
The future is still so much bigger
than the past.