It's Up To You

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On p130 Berners-Lee talks about the four layers of the Web's infrastructure. They are the transmission medium, the computer hardware, the software, and the content itself. He argues it is important to keep these layers separate. He gives the example of turning on a TV and having it jump to a particular channel or give better reception to the "right" channel. That is a very insidious idea. But then he then goes on in p131 to talk about how hardware companies are crossing layers. "In 1998 Compaq introduced a keyboard with four special keys: hitting the Search key automatically takes the user to AltaVista." I absolutely love his next line because I feel it is so ridiculous. "Suddenly, where a person searches the Web depends on where he bought his computer." He could not be any more wrong. First of all, no one is forcing you to press that button. I remember having a keyboard with that very same feature, I never pressed it once. Doesn't everyone simple double click your browser and go to the search engine you want? Or better yet have it saved as your homepage. Second, the computer hardware is NOT blocking your access to any other website you want to visit, so his claim that where you search depends on where you buy your computer is totally fraudulent. The best part is at the end of this paragraph he even refutes his own point by stating that these buttons can be customized to point to any search engine the user likes.

This is no different than Microsoft preloading Internet Explorer to open to or search from its search box. If you don't like those sites or services use ones that you do, you don't even have to use Internet Explorer if you don't like it, Firefox or Chrome is free to use any time. I argue that the Internet is about choices, you have a choice to press that button or not, to use AltaVista or not, or to use the preloaded settings or not. Now if what Berners-Lee was talking about was a computer, operating system, or browser that blocked certain sites or forced people to use only their technology I would have agreed wholeheartedly with him. But the Internet is still as free as it ever has been, and it is up to you to choose how to use it.

This book is a little strange in that fact that sometimes it really shows its age since it was written back in 1999. The Internet back then is not the same as the one we have today so maybe his concern never came fully into fruition. I believe that there is no single entity able to control how all people user or view the Internet. Not back then, not now.



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I would have to agree with you that everything on the internet is a choice. You can choose to click on a certain browser and choose where you want to go in the internet. But that being said, you have to remember that this was written in a different time with a different mind set. The world wide web wasn't where it is today and many people were still discovering all of its ins and outs. Yes people had a choice, but the web wasn't as developed as it is now and was newer to the world. I also have to agree with you that reading this book now is strange because it is out dated.

I did not even know they used to have Search keys that specifically lead you right into a search engine! This sounds so constricting, but I agree with you, on the fact that he refutes his point to describe it as something that was set there as a default but could be altered. The internet will always allow for choices but i think the key thing here, to touch on what Laura was talking about, was the time that this occurred. People were just discovering the different properties and capabilities of the web, and personalization is something that is still progressing.

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This page contains a single entry by barri084 published on February 19, 2013 10:14 PM.

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