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TBTF for 1995-07-23: HotJava, archiving, and community standards

Keith Dawson (dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com)
Sun, 23 Jul 1995 23:37:17 -0400

>>From Edupage:

Sun CEO Scott McNealy sees using Sun's HotJava program to distribute free
software over the Internet. The free software would be developed at
universities in exchange for donated equipment. McNealy sees hundreds of
"20-year-olds in computer science labs, working all night on Jolt Cola and
Twinkies, who would be thrilled to death to create a better word processor
than Word and make it available for free." (Financial Times 1995-07-17 p.9)

[HotJava is the latest development of James Gosling, instigator of Sun's
NeWS, circa 1984-86 -- an early contender in the distributed UI space that
lost out to the X Window System. Like NeWS, HotJava features a prominent
role for executable code downloaded from a server and executed on a client.
Gosling seems to have a thing for that particular technique. HotJava might
be appropriate for distributing small chunks of code, akin to the "parts"
that make up an OpenDoc application; but I can't see how it's suitable for
anything like a modern, hyperbloated word processor.]

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a data storage
technique that uses an ion beam to inscribe data in a space the size of 500
atoms and saves it for up to 5,000 years. The technique has been used to
store the equivalent of 12,000 diskettes (or 180 CD-ROMs) onto a 1-inch
long pin of stainless steel. (Information Week 1995-07-24 p.12)

[A recent article in Scientific American (Jan. 95) made clear what librarians
and archivists have been discovering for years -- that electronic media just
aren't archival. The media don't last and the technology for producing devices
to read the media is also fugitive. Where do you inscribe the instructions
for building a needle-reader? Nothing lasts like paper (unless it's papyrus).]

Peter Huber, author of "Orwell's Revenge" and senior fellow at the Manhattan
Institute, points out that "community standards" are no longer definable in
cyberspace. "'Deviance' loses its meaning, when communities of the
like-minded are formed entirely by consent. Freedom of association is so
complete in cyberspace that traditional limits on freedom of speech become
almost impossible to justify constitutionally." (Forbes 1995-07-31 p.110)

[If this view gains adherants it could crimp the style of the Tenessee pro-
secutors who download offensive material from California bulletin boards and
then bring suit in Tenessee on community-standards grounds.]

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Keith Dawson dawson dot tbtf at gmail dot com dawson@atria.com
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