News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
cactus picture Mail Starting 3/8/97

From: lendie@netcom.com (Lena M. Diethelm);
Sent at 3/10/97; 8:23:52 AM;
Re:If the Net Were Smarter

For the past six years, I have found The WELL to provide the answers and expertsto just about anything - usually only take a minute or two for a solid response.

From: may1@apple.com (Karl May);
Sent at 3/10/97; 9:19:47 AM;
Re:Fire Drill!

I will be out of the office at InternetWorld from Monday, March 10 to Monday, March 17 and will not be be able to cover all email. I will catch up as soon as I get back to the office.


From: ryantate@uclink3.berkeley.edu (ryan travis tate);
Sent at 3/9/97; 11:06:02 PM;
if the net were smarter

what's the difference between the dns-like neural net you talk about in If the Net Were Smarter and usenet? are you proposing usenet+smtp+html, sort of a media rich post/push hybrid??

From: reg@codestorm.com (Reginald Braithwaite-Lee);
Sent at 3/9/97; 1:17:07 PM;
Re:If the Net Were Smarter

> John Gilmore, one of the founders of Sun, wants something like this to
> provide access to PGP public keys.

This is a *very* hard problem. Not in resources or programming, but in protocols.

It's easy to think of several ways to build a distributed database. The hard part is making it secure against tampering. Without sacrificing the flexibility, redundancy, and expandability of the Domain Name System.

From: rmcp@pps.k12.or.us (Richard McPartland);
Sent at 3/8/97; 8:45:26 PM;
Re:If the Net Were Smarter

I am a teacher at Lincoln High School in Portland, OR. The kind of system you have described, posing questions to a net, could have major impact on all kinds of learning, including how we do school.

Like lots of other schools, we have recently wired the building, and have a T1 connection to the internet. Most teachers at first view the internet as some sort of super Library, and are having students use search engines to find information on some particular subject. This very often stops with a one sided and shallow return of the first few hits. Although students seem fairly good at finding music, software, game info, etc. Being able to pose a question, get responses, and begin communication with someone who knows about a particular topic sound like what real learning should be about.

I have been following Davenet for a few months. It is like watching someones mind work. Musing, exploring and sharing your vision. I am excited each time I find you have written something new, and a little disappointed when I recognize the same article that I read yesterday. However, I still find myself enjoying the reread.

I am interested in using Frontier on our Web server to help with keeping daily bulletin items posted and up to date. Also the content server solutions seems like a way to enable teachers to post assignments and other information to a class page daily. A class web page may sound like a good idea, but very few teachers would keep it up to date if it involved each of them dealing with HTML daily. My experience has been that most school sites experience a flurry of activity in the beginning, and then quickly become static and outdated as the enormity of the real job of keeping up and doing everything else becomes apparent.

If anyone has any experience using Frontier in a similar environment, I would like to hear about or from them. Frontier may turn out to be the reason for continuing to do our site on a Mac.

From: mark@tumbleweed.com (Mark Pastore);
Sent at 3/8/97; 1:57:54 PM;
Re:"Seeking Mac developers"

We'll be demonstrating Posta, Tumbleweed's reliable, secure, document delivery solution at booth #4988 at Internet World next week.

We are longtime Mac developers and Posta is cross-platform all the way. Look for a story about Posta next week in MacWeek.

From: yvon@cais.com (Yvon Perreault);
Sent at 3/8/97; 4:24:15 PM;
Re:If the Net Were Smarter

I have often thought about this sort of "neural web" idea before. I would dearly love to participate in an organized group process to make this thing happen, if someone or some organization in a position of leadership could somehow put forth the appropriate grand master plan.

From: bfrankel@ix.netcom.com (Barry Frankel);
Sent at 3/8/97; 12:22:45 PM;
More on advertising and the Net

Push vs Pull it is more of the same old advertising. And more of the same old "talk at you" media.

When a site uses Pull the ad salesman sell it like a magazine.

"Mr. Advertiser your ad was presented to 10,000 people."

And Mr. Advertiser figures out cost/thousand and says thanks no more ads cause he figures it costs less to advertise in a magazine.

When a site uses push the ad saleman can say, " Mr. Advertiser your ad was sent to a million people."

And Mr. Advertiser can figure out cost/thousand and compare this to TV and then deduct the high cost for making a TV ad and go with some Web push ads."

So it seems to me that the major benefit of push is that it will sell more ads that may very well fly off the screen without being seen because the user has walked out of the room.

But this is the same as counting a TV turned on in an empty room as a viewer watching an ad. While the family is doing other things during the commercial.

But no one has the guts to measure web ad viewing time or better yet ad interaction time. This is where the Web would shine. When I bought ads for a software company the magazines each year would sell me data on how my ad did in the one issue that they had research done on. The web can do this on every ad

The best interactive media I've seen is an from GM for the Corvette in Forbes. GM bound into Forbes a sealed file folder. The reader had to break the seal to see the contents.

Ok I'm a car nut. Never owned a vet probably never will but I had to break the seal. Iwas curious. I then read the ad's 6 or 8 pages. Probably spent more time in the ad than with any other ad because it delivered information in an interesting way.

Effectively GM created a browser like ad in print media. Breaking the seal is like clicking on the home page of GM and going to '97 corvette.

Moving through the seperate pages is like browsing with an arrow button.

Now if they only knew how long I spent looking at the ad and sent me an email to come in for a test drive, I might even do it. And if they knew how effective the ad was they would probably build more just like it. But magazines don't "call home" with the facts.

Oh well, print ain't the Web.

Enough musing on this it's time for lunch.

From: Whoisylvia@aol.com;
Sent at 3/8/97; 12:00:10 PM;
Internet World parties

The only good parties i've heard of are

Spencer the Kat party, starting at 10pm Wednesday night (don't know where, but ask anyone you spot from PC Week)

NetGuide (CMP) party Thursday night, 8 p.m. (but this might NOT be good...you didn't hear it from ME)

someone also told me there's a party at the House of Blues Wednesday night as well.

If I were going to the show, I'd make Wednesday the day to go. Actually, I AM going to the show Wed.....and i plan to cull my own party list within an hour or two of being on the floor, so if I see you around, i'll pass it on, of course. What's a party, without El Grande?

From: amy@home.cynet.net (Amy Wohl);
Sent at 3/8/97; 11:29:20 AM;

Yes! In fact, yes 10x over. If we could ask the Net for information in English and get the Net (that is, all of its component knowledgebases) to provide relevant answers, we'd be in a new place.

There are people all over, Dave, working on little pieces of this. Some of it's AI natural language processing so "The Net" can understand what you're asking for. (And, BTW, I'd like to be able to ask in voice, not keyboard -- it's faster -- so there's a voice recognition/speech processing piece, too, which is also very far along). I've been following this as a discussion subject for years, but thinking of it in the Net context is newer -- and more interesting. The possibilities are so big.

From: andyjw@tiac.net (Andy J. Williams);
Sent at 3/8/97; 10:24:51 AM;
Re:If the Net Were Smarter

I believe that, at least on some levels, we are already there. I've been taking a class in Neuropsychology at Harvard Graduate School of Education and I've been learning a great deal about neural nets and how the brain works. (Aside: one entire class was devoted to the entire room of people acting like a neural net -- a fantastic exercise and a lot of fun if you have 50+ people in one room and want to have some fun).

Anyway, the more I learn about neural nets the more I find that much about our day to day lives are much like a neural net. Someone tells me about a really interesting new band or book. Maybe I listen, I likely say "huh" and move on. But five people all tell me (or one person I *really* trust) and suddenly I'm excited. I go to the store and then I tell other people about it. Neurons work the same way. One neuron fires and the receiver says "Yeah, so what." But if many of his neighbors get excited, he does to! He fires and passes word along.

The Net works like this but a lot faster. We all get messages in our mailboxes and if they excite us enough (especially if we hear it from either trusted sources or from many sources) we get excited and pass it along.

It makes me wonder how long it will take until the Net (made up of the synaptic connectsions (the computers and connections) and the neurons (us) make up an intelligent entity. Would we even know we are part of a higher-order intelligence?

And if you consider Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis (that the Earth is a living organism) then this gets to be really interesting.

Anyway, a little early morning philosophy for you.

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