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December 22, 2005


Julian Morrison

Seems obvious to me, the read-write web wasn't "lost" - it was considered bad. And this wasn't a diminution, but an improvement. There's simply more that can be done with a controllable web. Online-editable hypertext couldn't have made Amazon or Google. Even wiki is predicated on the ability to *restrain* editing only to where it's wanted. Plus, HTML editing is a bad fit for many, even most, types of content. The early read-only browsers, particularly Netscape, were reaching towards the second real web breakthrough: the idea that the browser isn't an app, it's a terminal and an OS. Now if your site calls for an editor it can run *in* the browser as DHTML/AJAX, and can be precisely tuned to the task.

Paul Medlock

An interesting article. Thanks. I, too, developed a hypertext system beginning in 1987, a few months before Apple announced Hypercard. At first, my project ran only on MSDOS, but Westinghouse Electronics Systems hired me as a contractor in 1988 to port my system, called farVIEW, to VMS and DECNET to use as a shared software reuse library management system. We also used it as a workgroup system. It could be applied to such specialized problems, since it has a built-in scripting language. Both the reuse system and the workflow system supported "email", and also supported document management through editable workflow diagrams. Reading and writing is an intrinsic part of farVIEW.

The trade papers of the time did some writeups on the VAX version, and I sold several copies to an aerospace company, which they use(d?) to quickly access large schematics at their satellite launch site in California.

There is a Windows version of farVIEW now, and both versions are available for download on my website, but I believe that I am the only one that uses either version at this point :-(

Michael Fisher

While you're busily rhapsodizing over the read-write web that wasn't, you're missing a very visceral bit of reality: our new favorite 4-letter word, SPAM. Anyone who's posted an online guestbook knows that it will soon be filled with messages hyping sex sites or online prescription drugs -- once again, a powerful tool can be turned around and used destructively.

An RW web is a nice idea, but in the purist, theoretical form in which you describe it, it's unfortunately a pipe dream.

Happy New Year!

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