by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jan 11th 2012 12:52pm
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 11th 2011 12:02pm
from the it-would-be-quite-different dept
That sets up an interesting thought experiment. Where do you think the world would be today if the World Wide Web had been patented? Here are a few guesses:
- Rather than an open World Wide Web, most people would have remained on proprietary, walled gardens, like AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy and Delphi. While those might have eventually run afoul of the patents, since they were large companies or backed by large companies, those would have been the few willing to pay the licensing fee.
- The innovation level in terms of the web would have been drastically limited. Concepts like AJAX, real time info, etc. would not be present or would be in their infancy. The only companies "innovating" on these issues would be those few large players, and they wouldn't even think of the value of such things.
- No Google. Search would be dismal, and limited to only the proprietary system you were on.
- Most people's use of online services would be more about "consumption" than "communication." There would still be chat rooms and such, but there wouldn't be massive public communication developments like blogs and Twitter. There might be some social networking elements, but they would be very rudimentary within the walled garden.
- No iPhone. While some might see this as separate from the web, I disagree. I don't think we'd see quite the same interest or rise in smartphones without the web. Would we see limited proprietary "AOL phones?" Possibly, but with a fragmented market and not as much value, I doubt there's the necessary ecosystem to go as far as the iPhone.
- Open internet limited by lawsuit. There would still be an open internet, and things like gopher and Usenet would have grown and been able to do a little innovation. However, if gopher tried to expand to be more web like, we would have seen a legal fight that not only delayed innovation, but limited the arenas in which we innovated.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Nov 12th 2010 10:58am
from the how-far-we've-come dept
HyperText is a way to link and access information of various kinds as a web of nodes in which the user can browse at will. It provides a single user-interface to large classes of information (reports, notes, data-bases, computer documentation and on-line help). We propose a simple scheme incorporating servers already available at CERN.Quite amazing what that one, quite small, project has since become.
The project has two phases: firstly we make use of existing software and hardware as well as implementing simple browsers for the user's workstations, based on an analysis of the requirements for information access needs by experiments. Secondly, we extend the application area by also allowing the users to add new material.
Phase one should take 3 months with the full manpower complement, phase two a further 3 months, but this phase is more open-ended, and a review of needs and wishes will be incorporated into it.
The manpower required is 4 software engineers and a programmer, (one of which could be a Fellow). Each person works on a specific part (eg. specific platform support).
Each person will require a state-of-the-art workstation , but there must be one of each of the supported types. These will cost from 10 to 20k each, totalling 50k. In addition, we would like to use commercially available software as much as possible, and foresee an expense of 30k during development for one-user licences, visits to existing installations and consultancy.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 28th 2010 7:14am
from the speak-up dept
And yet... this bill has a lot of political clout behind it and it's moving fast (even as the bill's main sponsors are speaking out against censorship in other countries, they support it at home). Unfortunately, there really hasn't been that much open discussion about the bill. Supporters seem to think it's a foregone conclusion that it will pass, and it's moving quickly (it's schedule for a vote in committee this week). Senators who are supporting the bill have claimed that they've heard no objections to the bill, despite the widespread discussions online about how problematic it is.
As it moves forward, some people, who recognize the problems with it, are speaking out. The EFF, for example, is looking for techies who have been involved in building the original internet's infrastructure to sign onto a protest letter. Separately, as part of an effort to get people to sign a petition against COICA, World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee has spoken out against COICA:
"We all use the web now for all kinds of parts our lives, some trivial, some critical to our life as part of a social world," says Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the Web. "In the spirit going back to Magna Carta, we require a principle that: No person or organization shall be deprived of their ability to connect to others at will without due process of law, with the presumption of innocence until found guilty. Neither governments nor corporations should be allowed to use disconnection from the Internet as a way of arbitrarily furthering their own aims."I'm never sure how effective online petitions are, but no matter what, it's important to get the word out about this bill. We should not stand for censorship in the US. Apparently over 20,000 people signed the petition in the first day it was available, and it would be great to get a lot more involved. This is bad and supremely dangerous legislation that has been fast-tracked, much to the delight of those who don't realize how destructive it would be.
from the that's-cold dept
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jun 4th 2008 11:16am
from the as-written-by-the-winners dept
The more recent stuff in the article doesn't add much, but there's a great discussion of the early years, where there are even a few themes that may sound familiar around here -- including the idea that multiple people seem to come up with the same ideas at the same time. For example, the article notes that both Paul Baran and Donald Davies entirely independently came up with the idea of packet-switched networks, and one of Baran's quotes in the article is:
"I get credit for a lot of things I didn't do. I just did a little piece on packet switching and I get blamed for the whole goddamned Internet, you know? Technology reaches a certain ripeness and the pieces are available and the need is there and the economics look good -- it's going to get invented by somebody."It's Stigler's Law all over again.
Somewhat related to that is the interesting tidbit about how CERN originally wanted to patent the World Wide Web, until Tim Berners-Lee talked them out of it (as recounted by Robert Cailliau):
"At one point CERN was toying with patenting the World Wide Web. I was talking about that with Tim one day, and he looked at me, and I could see that he wasn't enthusiastic. He said, Robert, do you want to be rich? I thought, Well, it helps, no? He apparently didn't care about that. What he cared about was to make sure that the thing would work, that it would just be there for everybody. He convinced me of that, and then I worked for about six months, very hard with the legal service, to make sure that CERN put the whole thing in the public domain."Imagine how different the world would be if the Web were patented early on? It almost certainly would have massively stunted development.
Also, amusingly, from multiple people early in the piece, AT&T plays the roll of the clueless big company who wants nothing more than to kill the internet and keep its monopoly:
Paul Baran: The one hurdle packet switching faced was AT&T. They fought it tooth and nail at the beginning. They tried all sorts of things to stop it. They pretty much had a monopoly in all communications. And somebody from outside saying that there’s a better way to do it of course doesn’t make sense. They automatically assumed that we didn’t know what we were doing.AT&T trying to kill the internet, not seeing the business opportunity and insisting things could never work (when they obviously did)? That all sounds mighty familiar...
Bob Taylor: Working with AT&T would be like working with Cro-Magnon man. I asked them if they wanted to be early members so they could learn technology as we went along. They said no. I said, Well, why not? And they said, Because packet switching won't work. They were adamant. As a result, AT&T missed out on the whole early networking experience.
Bob Kahn: Let me put it into perspective. So here we are when there are very few time-sharing systems anywhere in the world. AT&T probably said, Look, maybe we would have 50 or a hundred organizations, maybe a few hundred organizations, that could possibly partake of this in any reasonable time frame. Remember, the personal computer hadn't been invented yet. So, you had to have these big expensive mainframes in order to do anything. They said, There's no business there, and why should we waste our time until we can see that there's a business opportunity?
Bob Metcalfe: Imagine a bearded grad student being handed a dozen AT&T executives, all in pin-striped suits and quite a bit older and cooler. And I'm giving them a tour. And when I say a tour, they're standing behind me while I'm typing on one of these terminals. I'm traveling around the Arpanet showing them: Ooh, look. You can do this. And I'm in U.C.L.A. in Los Angeles now. And now I'm in San Francisco. And now I'm in Chicago. And now I'm in Cambridge, Massachusetts -- isn't this cool? And as I'm giving my demo, the damned thing crashed.
And I turned around to look at these 10, 12 AT&T suits, and they were all laughing. And it was in that moment that AT&T became my bete noire, because I realized in that moment that these sons of bitches were rooting against me.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 17th 2008 1:29pm
from the transparency,-transparency,-tranparency dept