Thursday, November 03, 2005

Solutions: Executive summary

We know how to solve the problems of the Web. The solutions outlined here are by no means original. They have been researched, prototyped, and used in other contexts. They work.

What we don't know is how to solve the problems of the Web and retain backwards compatibility at the same time. The cost of backwards compatibility is high—more importantly it's recurring: we pay for it every day, every hour the Web is an active platform. We pay for it with productivity losses caused by spam, denial of service, cracked accounts, broken JavaScript—and with new services and content that could have been developed but weren't.

What can a new infrastructure offer that would cause a critical mass of people to use it? An escape from paradoxes that seem intractable today.

  • Everything is free, yet nothing is free. (Compensation paradox)

    Solution: build payments into the core protocols. Every transaction will have a monetary component. The economic model will evolve, as long as there is a technical foundation for it. (read more)

  • We don't know who you are, yet there is no privacy. (Identity paradox)

    Solution: make identity and privacy management part of the platform. There will be no password form fields; applications delegate all identity verification to the platform, which uses multifactor identification if possible. There will be no cookies; services will offer explicit trade-offs between the privacy level and the personalization level.

  • Write multiple times, yet it still doesn't run everywhere. (Compatibility paradox)

    Solution: modernize the development and deployment model. Instead of single standard/multiple implementations, there will be a single openly developed implementation of the platform. Applications and services built on the platform can use any licensing model they want. All components will have an autoupdate functionality. (read more)

  • Code goes over the network, yet it's not mobile. (Boundary paradox)

    Solution: hide the boundaries between machines from the platform. Instead of the client-server model, the developer will view the networked system as a single fault-tolerant computer. Use transactions to manage concurrency.

  • The Web is not decentralized enough, yet it is not centralized enough. (Responsibility paradox)

    Solution: decouple technical hierarchies from the hierarchy of responsibility. Dedicated police services will enforce the laws and provide other functionality that requires centralization, such as maintain certificate authorities and namespace. Entities will be required to associate their identities with one of the police services which will have jurisdiction over them, similar to the passport/state system.

This is a brief description of proposed solutions. No solution can be implemented in the context of the Web because of backwards compatibility; but a completely new infrastructure can adopt them all. The upcoming posts will focus on each paradox and its solution in detail.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck.

1:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Pessimist,

If you create a Shared World in which The Web is a main application and computer the primary object, the additional complexity brought by the new infrastructure and new paradigm will not seem justified. My question is: what in your pessimistic view is the "killer app", the application that will clearly and unequivocally show the rest of us why the Web is no longer a sufficient medium.

Sincerely,
Protagonist

3:03 PM  
Blogger jrp said...

Dear Protagonist,

This is a very good question, but it is off-topic for this post. Solutions are paradigm-independent. I do not write about a shared world here.

However, on the new post this question will be perfectly appropriate—please feel free to repeat it there if it hasn't been sufficiently answered.

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WEb was a U.S. military invention. U.S. will still retain control, period, and only a global rebellion will circumvent this policy. Net offers the NWO all the mind and speech surveillance a statist could want. They will never give an inch but, on the contrary, will figure out how to ID, control and rollback their ideological foe.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Hugo Brito said...

Hello anonymous,

The WWW was developed in CERN (Switzerland) with no military objective.

You are probably referring to Paul Baran's work and memorandum and the development of the ARPAnet, which is not the same as WWW.

(Sorry for the interruption)

4:28 AM  

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