Xanadu discussion in Second Life - April 13, 2008

Jack: hi Sonitus

Sonitus Randt: Hi

Jack: did you see the notice for the discussion?

Sonitus Randt: Yes. I think I've heard of this before, but know no details.

Sonitus Randt: The name Ted Nelson is familiar to me, and I'm sure I've run across this somewhere before.

Jack: Xanadu was designed in the 60's by the man who invented the word hypertext

Jack: several partial implementations have been written

Jack: but none yet that have all of it's feature set

Jack: what OS do you run?

Sonitus Randt: I haven't gone to hyperworlds.org yet. If I open a browser, I think I'll crash. Have to check it out later.

Sonitus Randt: Mac OS 3.9

Jack: oh, OK

Jack: there's a java program called gzz that will run on the Mac

Jack: did you mean OS X 10.3.9?

Sonitus Randt: Gzz. Thanks, I haven't heard of it.

Sonitus Randt: Yep, sorry.

Jack: no problem

Jack: I am running Leopard now

Sonitus Randt: In what way does Xanadu separate form and content? I mean, how does it differ from CSS?

Jack: with CSS there is still some embedded code for formatting, in Xanadu it would all be kept separate

Jack: so you would have even more flexibility in formatting for different uses

Sonitus Randt: Meaning the html would contain no references to any css type files?

Sonitus Randt: Or should I not even call it html?

Jack: and portions of a document could be combined with others to make composite documents

Jack: even html or other formatting codes would be kept separate

Sonitus Randt: So it's a kind of "master" structure, functioning as a coordinator of all the various elements?

Sonitus Randt: But not directly a part of any of them?

Jack: so in the formatting file it would say "beginning with character x and ending at y in document z, apply this style"

Jack: and you could have as many formats for a document as needed

Sonitus Randt: Okay, I see. And how would the links be unbreakable?

Jack: each document would be a stable version, so any links or formatting would always work

Sonitus Randt: What preserves the stabilty?

Sonitus Randt: Or ensures it?

Jack: when a new version is created, it would reuse parts of previous versions

Jack: all documents would be stored in a distributed database

Sonitus Randt: So, it's intelligent, in a way previous structures have failed to be.

Jack: there is the concept of a permascroll, a long continuous string of text that is just added to at the end

Jack: documents point to spans of this

Sonitus Randt: But still only a code system? Is there any kind of "brain" to it, like a software application? Or is it's intelligence contained exclusively in the long string you just mentioned?

Jack: any reuse of a string of text points to the same place on the permascroll

Jack: any intelligence would be either in the end users or programs that access the databases of source content, links, formatting, etc.

Sonitus Randt: I see. What did Nelson design it for. Arpanet (don't know if I spelled that right)?

Jack: it would resemble a paint program with separate layers for bitmaps, lines, filters, that can be shown or hidden as needed

Sonitus Randt: Ahh, I'm understanding better I think, with that analogy.

Jack: he designed it before Arpanet

Jack: in SL, there are many tables in a database that merge all kinds of information to create what you see and interact with here

Sonitus Randt: Layers. To push the analogy, does that mean that it has a self-checking/correcting function that works by comparing similarities and differences between some (or all) of the "layers"?

Jack: money, bitmaps, 3d objects, scripts

Jack: it could do that for things like applying boolean functions to objects and bitmaps

Jack: first implementations might be text only, but later all forms of media would be included

Sonitus Randt: If it's still a work-in-progress, what are the remaning problems that need working out (besides, I guess, keeping it abreast of rapid changing technology in general, I mean)?

Sonitus Randt: What kept it from becoming integrated into the web?

Jack: links would be from spans to spans of text and could overlap other links

Sonitus Randt: Now that would be tremendous, the overlapping links. I can see that would open up possibilities.

Jack: when first designed, the tools didn't exist to make it easy

Jack: there is work now going on to do it in Python

Jack: but I think Rebol is another possibility

Sonitus Randt: It seems it could lead the web into becoming more like it was originally envisioned, that most words (maybe even all) in documents cross referencing throughout the web.

Jack: yes

Sonitus Randt: Instead of just isolated links here and there.

Jack: there might be many more links, but they could be filtered

Jack: there is a new website that uses some of these ideas for video

Jack: http://omnisio.com

Sonitus Randt: I'm blanking on the guy's name, the one that actually created http, the name of the web, etc. but at his site I read about his original vision, and, I must say, It made much sense and made me realize that, despite the wonders of the web, it's still very limited in certain ways.

Jack: it allows you to combine video segments from Youtube and Google

Sonitus Randt: I'll check out that link later. Thanks. If I open a browser now, I'll probably crash.

Jack: Tim Berners-Lee

Sonitus Randt: Exactly. Learned a lot from his site

Sonitus Randt: Has he worked with Xanadu at all?

Jack: in omnisio, anyone can add a comment at any place and time in a video

Sonitus Randt: What's his opinion of it, if he has any?

Jack: no, Xanadu has mostly been a separate group of projects

Sonitus Randt: I see.

Jack: I think he has somewhat different goals than those of Xanadu

Jack: he doesn't think 2 way links are practical

Jack: with 2 way links, when you make a link from A to B, it also works from B to A

Sonitus Randt: I believe I remember him stating that he saw no way to keep 2-way links unbroken.

Sonitus Randt: Yes I remember him talking of them.

Sonitus Randt: And that was one of the reasons his vision of the web has remained unfulfilled.

Jack: yes, in the way the web works, links often break, even 1 way links

Jack: Berners-Lee did want the web to be fully editable, and the browser Amaya does that

Jack: with any page editable by anyone

Sonitus Randt: I was just going to bring that up. He mentioned a browser that would allow that.

Sonitus Randt: I'd forgotten the name.

Jack: and uploading to the server if you have permission

Sonitus Randt: So kind of a Wikipedia Wide Web lol

Jack: otherwise, just saving as a local file

Jack: in ways

Jack: wikipedia just has one current version of each page

Jack: Xanadu would allow many versions, with links and filters to categorize them

Jack: anyone could create indexes, or modify another index

Sonitus Randt: And so, as you said, the decision of which was more useful/accurate would be left to the end users/accessing programs.

Sonitus Randt: Which version/set of contents, I mean.

Jack: yes, all the intelligence would be in the clients, not the server

Jack: the servers would just deliver spans of text or other media from the permascroll

Jack: like the way omnisio gets spans of video from google and youtube

Sonitus Randt: Merging

Jack: and allows anyone to create composite videos, and anyone to add comments to that

Jack: if you think about adding pages of text to the timeline and music and images, you get even closer to Xanadu

Jack: and then add links to that so you have video streams branching and merging

Jack: I could see that happening in SL

Jack: a virtual world of ideas presented with every form of media

Sonitus Randt: So Xanadu is all about increasing flexibilty of content combination. It facilitates users' creativity, and depends on users' sensibilities, taking power away from the macine "intelligence" that servers now... uh... serve us and giving that power back to human intelligence.

Jack: actually virtual worlds, plural

Jack: exactly

Sonitus Randt: Worlds plural, as you say, I see, so it's abit like the new ideas of more than three dimensions in physics.

Sonitus Randt: Multidimensional networks

Jack: and there could still be machine intelligence applied at the user end

Jack: yes, very multidimensional

Jack: the program I mentioned earlier, gzz is multidimensional

Jack: and allows creating new dimensions which are used to link in many directions

Sonitus Randt: Well, I tell you, this has been very enlightening to me. I'll check out omnisio and the hyperworlds site. Gotta be leaving now. Really enjoyed our talk. Oh yes, I'll look into Gzz too.

Jack: I have many mindmapping programs that allow linking, but only on a 2d plane

Jack: thanks for coming

Sonitus Randt: Mindmapping? Sounds interesting. What's that about?

Jack: a type of visual diagram

Jack: with linked nodes

Jack: search for Personal Brain

Jack: it's my favorite one

Sonitus Randt: I've been looking for that my whole life lol

Sonitus Randt: Okay, I'll check it out. Later.

Jack: great

Sonitus Randt: Bye

Jack: thanks

Sonitus Randt: np