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10/18/1999 library of catalogs

Just moments ago, I was listening to a story on Marketplace from NPR. The story was about the benefits of XML, and how the World Wide Web will revolve around this new language, how searching on the internet will become more effective, the internet will move faster due to the simplification of information, and that everyone will have an easier time getting information due to the advent of this wonderful new markup language.

All I can see is this : money. Money money money.

Money money money money.

Before I say the word "money" again (moneymoney), I have to state my displeasure in search engines today. You know why? Because content is rarely the result of my searches. On a search for most words, your first few hits belong to commerce sites trying to sell you something.

The theory behind hypertext is that the old-fashioned organization form known as footnotes, end notes, or parenthetical references, are taken to a further degree. Rather than just listing the source of the relevant piece of information, let's create a direct link to that piece of information. Selecting that link would provide you with the entire document that was used as a source, and that source will have all the links to it's sources, and so on, thus providing everyone with the possibility of learn _everything_. The World Wide Web was designed with the idea that information would be universally available and connected an a relevant, organized manner.

We've all seen that this is not what has happenned. Actual information on the WWW is minimal and far-flung. Everything in between is a shopping site, where you can buy the information that you are looking for, an index which lists several other sites, which may or may not be linked to the relevant info that you're looking for, or your search has been manipulated by improperly designed META tags, which make a webpage look chocked full of that you're looking for, when in fact it is hardly relevant.

As I write these journal entries, I try hard to link the entry in a manner corresponding to the proper application of hypertext. I find pertinant words or phrases in what I've written, and link it to a place which rovides further information on the same subject. Or I go to the internet to look for a piece of information that I'm not sure on and need verification. Or, I refer directly to a webpage, and link to it rather than going into depth as to what it is: if you need more info, you click on the link. Suck tries to do the same thing, and thankfully most genuine online news sources tend to do the same. And, frankly, whenever you do find an official information source, it is linked this way, too. The people putting complete sentences into digital form for downloading and consumption are properly taking the hypertext philosophy to heart and are applying it in a valid manner.

Here is where greed comes into play. is the most literal evidence of this -- why provide the informaiton for free, when a buck can be made? The Gutenberg project can't hold a candle to Amazon's success -- it's easier to take something that someone else produced on their own time and slap a pricetag on it, rather than putting the work into making the creations accessible to anyone with the will to do so. Where the internet had the possibility to become an all-powerful storehouse of knowledge, it becomes a catalog of information that's available of you provide a credit card number, expiration date, and mailing address.

And it's not just's catalog. Everyone that's invested in a computer has taken to putting something for sale on the internet. Of all the crazy things, some people put up for sale web space, which you buy in order to sell that webspace to someone else! In a world where you can buy empty space, and in turn sell that empty space to someone else, people have realized the obvious benefit of going online. It's so easy to not hire a salesperson when you can get the customer to fill out the invoice themselves via their web browser and enter it right into their sales computer system. Why print out catalogs and mail them to people that might buy something, when you can publish your catalong online, with infinite capability for reproduction without cost, customized for people that are already searching for your product? Profit margin is much larger when you cut your sales costs. It's not hard to find a free venue for selling your product. $13 a month for unlimited internet hours over a 56K modem gets you Usenet news, email access, enough free webspace to choke a horse, and plenty of other repositories for you to set up shop and wait for the orders to roll in.

So, rather than the WWW being a universally accessible library of information, it's become a library of catalogues. If the public library was full of nothing than sales aids, you'd be hard pressed to find enough information to fill an average high-school english paper. The time & money to compile genuine and valid information into a webpage is outweighed by the benefit of a flashy logo and an easy to use e-commerce shopping cart. Time & effort costs money in the corporate world, and putting the results of that money for free to everyone is not the most intelligent, corporate wise.

XML promises to make the moneymaking aspects of the internet easier, it won't make information finding any easier. No money is being made by putting information on the internet, at least not unless it's behind a username and password (for a monthly fee, of course). What I propose is to make the absence of XML the way to find information on the internet. The people making money will be the ones to adopt XML as soon as possible, thus making sure they extend their profitability into the future. What the search engines need to do is to recognize XML -- an eliminate XMLed pages from their indexes. This will leave behind only the pages which provide information, knowledge, and HTML-linked data leading to even more information sources. If XML is the way for moneymaking opportunities to make themselves stand out from the rest of the pack, hopefully it gives the rest of us the ability to know who to ignore.

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--VladilenOpips, 10/31/2017 01:33:01

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