Media, Information and Technoculture 2200F/G Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Hypertext Transfer Protocol, Ted Nelson, Hypertext
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Lecture 9 March 8, 2011
“MIT 1700” Week 9: The New Digital Order Search Engines to Wikipedia
-Ted Nelson and Hypertext
-knowledge = wealth
-computers = democracy
-computers could make our lives easier
-Most families today need to work longer and have two incomes to have the same
stability that their parents had in the 1950’s
-We are working more than ever; our technology can do so much more now.
-When we are on Facebook, we are working for the economy.
-Facebook sells the information that you post to companies so that they can
advertise to you better.
-They target demographic segments
-The economy is a big capitalistic system. Autonomous system because it no
longer needs people to help it along, it functions on its’ own. Our social relations
on Facebook and Twitter are basically advertising for free (talking about movies
we saw, last product we bought)
-Our social lives are dictated by commodification. Talking on Facebook is all
about indexing commodities; therefore you are still working for the economic
system even in your leisure time.
-More and more workers find that they take their work home with them, or on vacation.
They carry Blackberrys so that they can be on call at all times, and answer work emails
-Seems to be no option to ‘unplug’ everything is pressing and immediate
-The idea of a pristine vacation for many that is uncluttered by some arising matter at
work is simply vanishing. It is expected that workers be accessible and connected at all
times without pay
-We are just convenience ATMs for the corporations we work for
-A lot of the time we treat other people as ATM’s; they should be accessible to us
all the time.
-We are “obliged” to reply to emails, post a status update, etc. Leisure is
-This is not what Nelson envisioned for the personal computer.
-“knowledge is wealth” what you do with the information is important.
-Social media is for entertainment here. Not used for collectivization, social
organization, causes of social justice, etc.
-Coined the word “hypertext” = non hierarchical, non linear text. There’s no structural
order, has no hegemony or boss. Everything is equal.
-Hypertext is built on powerful, associative links. We don’t really think about
-Nelson argued that computers are no more dehumanizing than any other
technological tools like cars. Computers will simplify our lives and make us
capable of anything. Positive Outlook.
-To be fair, he’s not wrong. The tool itself isn’t good or evil, it just hasn’t
been used to its’ best capacity.
Lecture 9 March 8, 2011
-MEMEX machine. Nelson reasserted that we don’t think sequentially, but criss cross
what we read with what we know. We compare information to the big picture we have.
Our brains are hardwired with links that might be associated to what it is seeing.
-Computer Lib and Xanadu
-Nelson’s utopian vision for this forerunner to the Internet has innovative features that
we use today:
-Use of links; essential. Any user would be able to tag text in a document.
-Transclusion; any link could call up a window that would present the original
doc. onscreen beside what linked to it.
-This has its’ origin in the MEMEX, but Nelson coined transclusion
-Alternate revisions; any user can produce an alternate version of a document,
you don’t have to shred the original.
-Reader Autonomy; users can access info any way they choose and can tag it in
any way they like by adding notes or organizing their own info on the document
on their own computers.
-Meeting Rooms; connected online community that acts as a forum for info and
doc. exchange. Early idea for the chatrooms of the following decade which
introduced a social component.
-Inclusion of Different Print Media; functions as a digital resource for accessing
knowledge, but will be enhanced by users who tag them and produce their own
-Nelson forcasted exactly how we use the Internet today.
-Xanadu failed due to funding.
Tim Berners-Lee and WWW
-Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
-Universal Resource Location (URL)
-Benefit: Standardized web makes information sharing easier/faster/more efficient.
-Information can be transferred from user to user without having to standardize the format
-Berners-Lee envisioned the Web for professional, serious purposes.
Marc Andreesen - Mosaic
-Moved web development more into the public domain
-In 1991 the web was just text. Not much use or interest to the general population.
-Andreesen set out to make the web more graphics heavy.
-Devised browser called Mosaic that added extra image tags that could be embedded on the
page instead of having to be downloaded.
-Added navigation buttons (forward, backward, home)
-First point and click browser
-Made hyperlink which allowed jumping from documents.
-Public was alerted to the usefulness of the Internet.
-Became Netscape in 1994 and was popular for awhile.
-Andreesen wanted to sell Netscape to users for a higher cost but decided to sell it for less, then
released it on a 90 day free trial that was never enforced; so it was free.
-They could make money with ad revenue on their homepage. They didn’t need to charge
people, the companies with ads would give them money.
Lecture 9 March 8, 2011
-Netscape gave people the ability to design their own pages
-New worker: web page designer
-Hit peak in 1996 when 76% of all computers used it. But Netscape never added more
innovation and it got stale.
-Eventually, Microsoft was able to create a better browser than Netscape, Explorer.
-By 1999 Netscape sold its’ remaining shares to America Online for 10billion.
-They wanted access to all the users that were using Netscape.
-“A Theory of Indexing”
-Father of modern search engine.
-Development of search system a mix of math, computer science, and linguistics.
-To him, search systems should be capable of ranking items using subject identifiers in
decreasing order of importance or relevance and helping us to choose what’s most relevant.
-Web 3.0 = Semantic Web, based on Salton’s idea of linguistics. When you don’t know how to
articulate your search term it will be able to anticipate it.
-More user control for returned results
-Better results filtering
-GOPHER (Mark McCahill)
Matthew Gray and Wandex
-First webcrawler (use of bots)
-Bots perform automated functions to find URLs and update information to search engine
changes, looking for new websites and then stores that info in a central computer.
-Google knows what it knows because of these web crawlers.
-Helped organize Internet
Jerry Yang and David Filo (1995)
-First search engine to add capsule descriptions
-Not just the title of the page was indexed
-Allowed users to search for more than just text, like pictures
Sergey Brin and Larry Page (1997)
-Google is now the most powerful search engine.
Anatomy of a Search Engine
-Three main type of searches we do:
-The bot visits sites with info that hasn’t yet been recorded.
-The index/catalogue stores all the information