Does the web need a bill of rights? | Web Directions

Sir Tim Berners-​​Lee says yes, we do, if we are going to protect and enshrine the independence of the medium he created. He spoke of his concerns in a recent Guardian interview:

Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture. It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.

He was speaking exactly 25 years after he wrote the first draft of the first proposal for what would become the world wide web — the first page of which we shared in the printed program for Web Directions South last year, including that wonderful annotation there at the top from his boss “Vague but exciting …”

Sir Tim Berners-Lee's Information Management Proposal
Hard to believe too that we held our first ever event for people who work on the Web just 15 years after this proposal was published!

Sir Tim Berners-​​Lee went on to say that the issues of privacy, free speech and responsible anonymity have crept up on us.

Our rights are being infringed more and more on every side, and the danger is that we get used to it. So I want to use the 25th anniversary for us all to do that, to take the web back into our own hands and define the web we want for the next 25 years.

Which I thought was a nice echo to some of the words in this magnificent angry rant by one of our keynotes from Web Directions South last year. Maciej Ceglowski. Maciej’s rant, actually from his recent Webstock presentation, is well worth the read in its entirety, but here’s the bit that especially caught my eye:

What upsets me, what really gets my goat, is that we did it because it was the easiest thing to do. There was no design, forethought, or analysis involved. No one said “hey, this sounds like a great world to live in, let’s make it”. It happened because we couldn’t be bothered.

Making things ephemeral is hard.

Making things distributed is hard.

Making things anonymous is hard.

Coming up with a sane business model is really hard—I get tired just thinking about it.

So let’s take people’s data, throw it on a server, link it to their Facebook profiles, keep it forever, and if we can’t raise another round of venture funding we’ll just slap Google ads on the thing.

“High five, Chad!”

“High five, bro!”

That is the design process that went into building the Internet of 2014.

via Does the web need a bill of rights? | Web Directions.

The Classics: ‘Solaris’ | The Verge

“In American sci-fi, the aliens were always weird, but recognizable as either allies or enemies. Lem wanted to imagine an encounter with something truly alien. How would human beings react to a life-form so foreign as to be beyond comprehension? He imagined a planet-wide sentient ocean so frustratingly non-communicative that scientists would spend their lives trying to unlock its secrets.”

via The Classics: ‘Solaris’ | The Verge.


Foundation series – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Foundation series – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Foundation series is a science fiction series by Isaac Asimov. There are seven volumes in the Foundation series proper, which in its in-universe chronological order are Prelude to FoundationForward the FoundationFoundationFoundation and EmpireSecond FoundationFoundation’s Edge, andFoundation and Earth.

The premise of the series is that the mathematician Hari Seldon spent his life developing a branch of mathematics known as psychohistory, a concept o fmathematical sociology (analogous to mathematical physics).

Using the laws of mass action, it can predict the future, but only on a large scale; it is error-prone on a small scale. It works on the principle that the behaviour of a mass of people is predictable if the quantity of this mass is very large (equal to the population of the galaxy, which has a population of quadrillions of humans, inhabiting millions of star systems). The larger the number, the more predictable is the future.

Stateless: retaining no information about previous events

Stateless means that a protocol (i.e., an agreed upon format or set of rules) or application program keeps no information one or more preceding events in a given sequence of interactions with a user, another computer, another program, device, etc.

Statelessness is the opposite of maintaining state. It offers the advantages that it can simplify programming and that it can reduce network traffic.

State is maintained by most modern application programs in order to ensure data consistency and facilitate ease of use. A major benefit is that it allows programs to remember what users were doing earlier in the same session in a program or in the previous times they ran the program. For example, it allows programs to retain the user’s configuration settings.

In contrast, much of the Internet and web is intrinsically stateless. For example, HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) by itself provides no means for maintaining state, and thus, without the use of special coding, each request for a new web page is processed without any knowledge of the pages previously requested. Because maintaining state is extremely useful, programmers have developed a number of techniques to add state to the web, including cookies and server APIs (application programming interfaces).

User datagram protocol (UDP), one of the core protocols of the Internet, is a stateless, transport layer protocol that runs on top of IP networks. Its stateless nature is useful for servers that respond to large numbers of small queries.

via Stateless: retaining no information about previous events.