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Page history last edited by Charlene 11 years, 5 months ago

SIG: Random sampling of today's bulletin board queries:


#54,897: "Say does anyone else out there feel that he or she is missing something? I mean, I can't pin it down exactly but... do you feel that something's going on but nobody's telling you what it is? Don't know...can't shake this feeling that something's happening..."


Status: Confirmed

Brin refers to it as the "Net", and the tools that he describes in its use bear a remarkable resemblance to what we use today. Others he refers to hint at an electronic ecology where software entities interact, seek, attack and defend data. Below are some examples of Brin's description resonating

  • ferret = a data mining bot
  • secretary = spam filter 
  • limpets
  • badgers
  • bloodhounds
  • cockatrices
  • dragons = low orbit ion cannon (4)


2 years after publication, a computer protocol called Gopher was released and is still in use in some browsers today. (5)


And, of course, he refers to a few systems which have remained favourites:

  • Prediction Registries (for identifying who predicted what and, more importantly, who got it right the most)
  • Disputation Arenas (for allowing two or more opposing points of view to be presented in full detail for all to see and judge in their own time, rather than be guided in opinion)


Brin also refers to less pleasant effects of the internet:

  • spam
  • viruses/trojans


One area where Brin didn't pick up on is the non-proprietary nature of today's web tools: we don't pay for someone to craft a ferret to retrieve a piece of information we're after, we 'google' it (ie query a vast repository compiled by bots that are continuously scanning web pages)



In 2006, the World Wide Web is so ubiquitous that it seems incredible that its first nodes were only established by Tim Berner-Lee a mere sixteen years ago, at CERN in 1991, and didn't achieve critical mass until 1993.


Earth was published in 1989.


Of course, the basic communications architectures (DARPANet) were already in place, and Berners-Lee had been experimenting with the concepts for the previous decade (and the concepts can be traced back to ideas in the forties), so predicting the web in 1989 isn't really astonishing. What might be of more surprise is the speed with which it has become established, again due, in part, to the open nature of the web. (CERN made it freely available when a competing technology 'gopher' acquired a price tag... remember gopher? I didn't until I researched this page!)



  1. The World Wide Web: Wikipedia
  2. the wiki you're currently reading
  3. the browser with which you're reading it
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_Orbit_Ion_Cannon
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gopher_(protocol) 

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