Archive for March, 2007

Web History Day at WWW2007

March 13, 2007

(This is a copy of an entry to the WWW2007 blog)

Web History Events: 10 Year Anniversary

In 1997, the Web History Day and Exhibit was one of the most popular programs of the 6th International World Wide Web Conference (WWW6) in Santa Clara, California. This year, ten years after the original event, at the 16th Web Conference (WWW2007) in Banff, Canada, a reprise of this program will occur.  The conference will host multiple Web History-related events and a weeklong Web History Exhibit area for the benefit of conference attendees and where attending pioneers can donate historical materials and add recollections.

The 1997 event brought together many of the major pioneers of the early Web and hypermedia for the very first time, from Douglas Engelbart, Tim Berners-Lee, Brewster Kahle and Ted Nelson to authors of early browsers – Viola, Mosaic, Netscape, Cello, Internet Explorer, Midas and more (http://1997.webhistory.org/historyday). The hands on exhibit featured pioneering software and sites, from the first browser/editor running on its original NeXt cube to the White House site and HotWired. The program was co-organized by Web pioneer Kevin Hughes and Web historian Marc Weber with help from pioneer Jean-François Groff, at the invitation of conference organizer Bebo White.

At WWW2007, the Web History events will focus on the history of E-Commerce, with speakers from Marty Tenenbaum of CommerceNet to blogger Robert Scoble. Featured also will be a history of the conference series which began in 1994 at CERN. It will also bring attendees together with leaders of the museum and archiving communities, who are becoming increasingly convinced of the importance of collecting artifacts from the early days of the Web and documenting the historical evolution of Web technology. The preliminary event program can be seen at  http://www2007.org/webhistory.php.

The organizers of this year’s Web History Day include many of the same persons involved with the original program—Marc Weber, Bebo White, Kevin Hughes, and Jean-François Groff– with some additions.  In the past year Marc Weber and Bill Pickett have co-founded The Web History Center, http://www.webhistory.org, which has absorbed Weber and Hughes’s older Web History Project and adds key pioneers like Robert Cailliau and Marty Tenenbaum to its Advisory Board.

You are invited to look at the Web History Center Web site. The Center’s goal is to attract attention to the need to save records and memories of the origins and development of the Web, and to put individuals and organizations that have such materials in contact with archives and museums (twelve such institutions have joined as members of the Center) who are interested in preserving and making these materials available to researchers and educators.

Concurrently, the Center is creating a digital library that will ultimately become a definitive resource on the history of the Web. This library will allow anyone with an Internet connection (students, researchers, entrepreneurs) to view original documents, videos, and images.
The Center is working with Bebo White to bring together and find an archival home for the records of the International World Wide Web Conference Committee (IW3C2).  The history of the Web Conference series closely parallels the evolution of Web technology and the activities of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). White is a member of the Web History Center’s Advisory Board and serves as liaison with the IW3C2 and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), home of the first Web site in the United States.  Anyone having materials relevant to any of the above categories are invited to contact White, Weber, or Pickett.

For the Web History event at WWW2007, we are especially interested in items from past conferences that can be included in the exhibit—the original sites, posters, T-shirts, pins, badges, printed collateral, and more. As a part of the conference program, the WHC is sponsoring a weeklong exhibit and hosting a light buffet reception on Tuesday night to open the event and introduce key speakers. Wednesday’s plenary address by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, co-organized by the WHC and WWW2007, will provide an opportunity for him to reflect on both past and future. Finally, all day Wednesday, the main Web History track will feature speakers on the history of E-Commerce, the conference series, and ways of preserving and making public the Web’s history—both past and ongoing. Please join us!

Gout

March 13, 2007

I was browsing the newspaper this morning and I happened to notice the obituary of Dr. Tsai-Fan Yu of New York City. Now I didn’t know Dr. Yu, but apparently I owe her a great deal of gratitude. Dr. Yu was one of the world’s foremost specialists on gout and pioneered the use of most of the medications used for gout today. I have suffered from gout for almost 30 years and so I say, “Thank you Dr. Yu!”

There is no need to go into details about gout except to say that it is extremely painful when it attacks and it is, to my knowledge, one of the only ailments that many in the general public find amusing. Often when I tell someone that I have gout, the response is wisecracks about high and decadent living. Associations are made with Henry VIII gorging himself with fine foods and wine with his leg propped up on a “gout stool.” I remember once seeing an article warning employers that gout is often just an excuse for alcoholism. One of the best ways to alienate yourself with a gout sufferer is to make gout jokes unless, that is, you are so insensitive that you would joke about any condition that causes suffering. Dr. Yu probably got a lot of jokes when she introduced herself as a “gout specialist.”

So, once again, “Thank you Dr. Yu for your work and dedication. You make the lives of millions of gout sufferers around the world more tolerable.”

Boojum Buddies

March 4, 2007

Approximately four years ago, a good buddy of mine (Ron McGinnis) and I started visiting Baja California. We usually go about once a year and spend our time off-roading in Ron’s 4WD vehicle (originally a Hummer H2 and for the past two trips, a Hummer H1). This trip has become an important part of my calendar that I look forward to – a chance to relax in the company of a great friend in one of the most beautiful and unique places I have ever been to. We now call ourselves the “Boojum Buddies” after the strange boojum (cirio) trees that are found only in Baja. We even have a domain name and Web site (www.boojumbuddies.com) that we plan someday to use to introduce people to Baja (a good retirement task).

Last week was our 2007 Baja trip and it brought, amongst the usual experiences, a real epiphany. Mike’s Sky Ranch is a popular stop in Northern Baja for dirt bikers, ATV drivers, and other off-roaders. You really need to have such vehicles to even get there. While at Mike’s there was a group of experienced bikers who expressed amazement that Ron and I had been to some locales without backup or other vehicles. Sure, we had been places that if we broke down, it would pose a major problem. It made me think of James Kim of CNET who got lost with his family in Oregon (James ultimately died and his family was rescued) and Jim Gray of Microsoft (with whom I have/had a slight acquaintance) who is still missing on his sailboat. Several days later while Ron and I were visiting cave paintings near Catavina, I slipped on a rock and broke my foot (though I didn’t know it until I got back to San Francisco). We were close to town (and I didn’t require any immediate medical attention), but it could have been much worse. The broken foot (now in a cast) has forced me to cancel upcoming classes in Pakistan and Hong Kong since my physician has forbidden me to travel.

It’s clear to me now that with its beauties, Baja also has its dangers. The wildness of Baja is enticing to us fragile visitors. We plan to return to Baja, but will certainly now rethink where we go, the supplies we take, and the communications networks we establish with our families while we’re gone. We owe that to each other since we’re Boojum Buddies.