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Definition of Xanadu per Ted and Kathy
- To: xanadu@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Definition of Xanadu per Ted and Kathy
- From: jbc@xxxxxxxxxx (Jim Bryce Clark)
- Date: Thu, 14 Mar 1996 08:34:29 GMT
- Reply-to: xanadu@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
How delightful to be sitting in on this discussion.
Two thoughts on the Xanadu definition. First: My understanding of the word
"media" is the same as that of Kathy-Not-From-Australia. That is, it refers
to the templates for an information package (Ted's words), rather than the
information being packaged. So the Mona Lisa information shows up in a
bunch of art books, some downloadable internet sites, and somewhere in oil
on canvas. As I had understood it, the thing which is to be changed,
re-used, intercompared and owned is the Mona Lisa information -- the visage,
not the art books, bytes or painting.
Second: the reference to "managing changes" and "intercomparison" in
documents strikes me as *particularly* important. It's odd that the HTML
"world wide web" protocol completely ignores archiving and management
issues. If the article to which you have hyperlinked is changed, without
notice, and the old version removed, to what are you now pointing? The
inability of one-way hyperlinks to deal with that problem has been utterly
ignored, as far as I can tell.
(Maybe it's the result of letting physicists spec a system. They operate
according to a herd sense of information: old news has relatively low
continuing vitality. Everybody spends a few years trying to find the latest
quark, or whatever; someone publishes a key theory or experiment; the
scientists close ranks around it; and it becomes the New Big Theory of
Everything for the relevant topic, *at which point* further inquiry largely
ceases and earlier papers become irrelevant. Not so in the human world
outside the lab.)
In my field (law), twenty or thirty successive versions of a document are
not uncommon. The idea of a "final" document, the finality of which
justifies throwing out all the historical drafts and previous work, is fast
becoming obsolete. IMHO, the most important contribution of Xanadu to
information management may not be hypertext, but rather an improved
understanding of the identity of information -- what, taken together,
constitutes "one" document for conceptual purposes?
I'd be delighted if someone could direct me to any serious discussions of
the foregoing problem -- *other than yours*. I haven't seen any.
Best regards. JBC