About the Net *we* want: (Call for Papers^H^H^H^H Help!) (fwd)

Salvador Bosque (srbosque@faui01.informatik.uni-erlangen.de)
Wed, 13 Dec 1995 15:54:03 +0100


Hi to all of you,

In short, I'm looking for your opinions, for your points of view about the
influence of Internet on our society. I'm a humble catalan guy trying to
finish before the end of this century ;-) his Diplom Thesis here at
Erlangen, Germany. The subject of my Thesis is:

Study on the performance
of the HTTP protocol,
and their efficient
realization among others
with Formal Description Techniques such as SDL/MSC.

After more than a year engaged with this project, I've realized at last
that an study on HTTP and the Internet in general needs, in my humble
opinion, not only a technical point of view but also at least a little bit
of attention about the influence of our lovely Arpanet'95 on our society
and our lifes.

Yeah, I know that out there are already 5,000,000 online articles published
about pseudo-philosophical studies on the Internet. But I would like in my
thesis to give my point of view, too. So maybe with 5,000,001 articles an
internet-junkie realizes at last that RL stands for Real Life. And maybe he
happens to re-discover it and can re-enjoy RL without no need at all for a
www-browser ;-)

That's why in my paper, apart from studying some inefficiencies of the HTTP
protocol, studying some already proposed technical alternatives and my own
proposals to improve it, I will try to give my *personal* point of view and
the point of view of all the NetIzens that reply to this message, too,
about the "state of the art" of Arpanet'95. This will include, among
others, the following topics:

- The possibility for the first time in history to create Virtual
Communities, groups of people that share just an opinion, an idea or a
taste and come from different countries, cultures, religions and/or social
layers. By the way, are these Virtual Communities really *worldwide*? I
mean, how many www-clients are out there in Africa or in underdeveloped

- The possibility of what I call "distributed thinking" and
"distributed programming", too. I think you will agree with me, that
without Internet we wouldn't have available by now so huge, complex and
powerful programming efforts such as Lin*x, Emacs, WINE, Hurd and many
others... I heard somewhere that somebody compared once the Emacs or the
Gnu project with the landing of man on moon (in greath and complexity
terms): no company by itself (no IBM, no DEC, no Sun, no Cray Corp.) could
have *ever* managed to elaborate such a complex programming project like
the (gnu|x}emacs we can enjoy nowadays. [yeah, I said *enjoy*, you
vi-freaks out there ;-)] By the way, this was of course a literary figure,
I don't mean really that emacs=3Dnasa!].

- [here your ideas and feelings about what the Internet has
brought to your lifes]

...but unfortunately not *everything* on the Net is so fine and beatific
=66rom my point of view. I can see among others the following dangers on our
lovely Arpanet95:

- Ok, on the Net you can find almost *everything*. But are we the humans
ready to assimilate accordingly all this huge amount of information that
changes at a ultra-fast pace?? I mean, a paper-book has not yet
hyper-links, and that's why I manage to finish most of them and at least
try to *assimilate* them. I mean *assimilate*, not just store them on my
hard disk for a later occasion...that's what I do with most of the
postscript files and www pages I "surf" from time to time. I mean, is it

Well anyway, if you've managed to read until this line this message it
means you *can* assimilate accordingly *huge* amounts of information ;-)

- A really frightening addiction/dependence danger: how many people
out there on the Net have disconnected already from "real life" and are by
now immersed in their own, self-created Internet-world?? How risky, how
easy is to become an Internet-junkie?? Are there available
medical/psychological studies on the influence on the Internet on our ways
of behaving??...oh well, I happen to know a couple of guys or, uh sorry,
NetIzens that literally don't speak with anybody, just with his IRC
channel. In fact I've just met people here in Erlangen that recognize
themselves as "internet-junkies" (literally) because "it's much easier to
meet people on the Net as on RL (Real Life of course)"...

I mean, Is this what we wanted???

- Security holes: with the new Java object oriented language,
*cool* applets can be written for your www-browser to display an animation
or play some game. But, how *secure* is Java? Or, more specifically, how
secure is the implementation of Java on the Not-Escape!2.0 web-Navigator, a
product that crashes more or less 50% of the applets, a product which
"100% secure" RSA public key cryptosystem was cracked recently by two
students??? Can we really trust Not-Escape? yeah, I know, it's cool &
fast...well, anyway, it is not faster than Arena

- By the way, NotEscape tries to impose *his* NHTML (netscape-html
or no-html, as you like, but it is *not* *clean* html3.0 anyway!!) "forced
de facto" standard. I ran a test just a while ago and some of this *cool*,
full of background gifs and client-side maps netscape-enhanced-pages are
*not* viewable *at all* by any of the following browsers: Mosaic, Arena,
tkWWW, EmacsW3, lynx...(See

At the same time, the MIME Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions
standard(?) is not yet a "de facto" standard available on all the
mail-clients by now, as far as I can see.

I mean, is this the Open Systems Architecture I heard sometime about?? Is
this the Net we want??

Of course there were many more other topics I would like to discuss, but
these are just enough by now and for me.

In my paper I don't want to make a scientifical, serious study of the
sociological influence of the Internet. All these topics will be covered in
just a sometimes serious, sometimes humorous Appendix that I would like to
"Internet or the Art of Zen"

(no, no "Zen or the Art of the Internet", and no, no "Zen or the Art of the

And for this Appendix I need your help, I need your opinions on these
topics, and if you have other ideas to add, just make them notice to me.

Just a reply to this mail (much better a *reposed*, long awaited reply than
a fast one) would be sufficient for me. And then I would be *really*
thankful with all of you.

At the end of this message I attached some excerpts from some mail exchange
I had lately with the author of a "soft-spamming" I got last week.

[Yeah, I edited them. Maybe I'm not a selective person but at least I
*tried* to leave only the essentials.]

I think they're kind of a good illustration of the topics I would like to
write about in the "not so scientific" appendix of my Thesis.

So just take your time, think a little bit about what is Internet for you
nowadays, what *should* it be from your point of view and send your
thoughts and feedback please to me <Salva.Bosque@stud.uni-erlangen.de>

I'm willing for your feedback, your opinions about Arpanet95.

Thanks a lot (for your patience)
- --
Salvador Bosque i Puy <Salva.Bosque@rzmail.uni-erlangen.de>
URL: http://www7.informatik.uni-erlangen.de/~srbosque
PGP public key: finger -l srbosque@cip.informatik.uni-erlangen.de | pgp -f
Key fingerprint: 3E E6 3A 0D 20 D3 29 CC 42 C9 AD F2 6C EE F4 CE

- ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>> On Fri, 1 Dec 1995 04:30:58 -0500 (EST),
>>>>> Steve R Peterson
>>>>> who can be reached at: srp@gedisa.com
>>>>> (whose comments are cited below with " Steve> "),
>>>>> had this to say in article <199512010930.EAA24185@clark.net>
>>>>> concerning the subject of Re: Editorial Gedisa

Steve> Salva I am the person that e-mailed you from Editorial Gedisa. I
Steve> designed and maintain thier page as well as do some Internet
Steve> surfing for them, basically looking for potencial clients. That's
Steve> how I ended up at your page, which I linked from the "Pa=EFsanos
Steve> Catalanos" page. And, yes, we do use a form letter (saves time) to
Steve> mail to people that we think would be interested in what the
Steve> company has to offer, but we only send one at a time - so it's not
Steve> a bulk "target" mailing.

You're a lucky person and Gedisa is a lucky company...I must confess that
my first impulse when I received your mail was to fill your mailbox@gedisa
for at least the next 200 years. (Yeah, I *could* do that, but don't be
afraid, I *won't*. 8-X...I'm too naive and a nice and friendly guy to do
that. But maybe other hackers on the net could do it, so be warned)

I don't know what you or Gedisa think about or if you have ever heard about
commercial spams and hosts and powerful sites closed by hacker-attacks
(just people angry because somebody tried to use his lovely internet to
make some business)

I hope you really *know* what you're doing sending mail in this way.
So good luck, really. You will need it.


Steve> Also, I'm not sure how you feel about taking advantage of Netscape
Steve> extensions, but by using the simple <body bgcolor=3D "#RRGGBB hex
Steve> value"> would give a nice attractive color background.

Well actually I use the bgcolor NHTML (some people read it as Netscape-HTML,
the people that have an idea about what is *or should* be our lovely
internet read it as no-html ;-> on
<http://wwwcip.informatik.uni-erlangen.de/user/srbosque/my_photo.html> and
uh well, I'm not really happy with this decission:

Yeah, it looks *cool*, really. But surprisingly I could see this page quite
well with Netscape 1.2 until Not Escape! 2.0J was released: with this kind
of browser, on my grayscale monitor here at my cute SunSPARC 20 box I can
only appreciate a dark background, and I'm not able to read now
anything. What an upgrade. Yeah, that's what it's called
80%-netscape-compatibility, may I presume? ;->

Steve> You can contol the color of your text and links too this way. This
Steve> is a touchy subject with some people but with 80% (and growing) of
Steve> the people on the net using Netscape, I feel it makes sense to take
Steve> advantage of (even though they may not be "techinically"
Steve> recognized) these powerful extensions,

Well, not *only* I personally think that you and 80% of NetIzens are wrong,
the World Wide Web Consortium <http://www.w3.org> and the Internet
Engineering Task Force< <http://www.ietf.cnri.reston.va.us/> agree with me:

In short, the main objective of our internet back in the 70's (aka
Arpanet'95) was to create an Open Systems Architecture. This means that an
heterogeneous bunch of computers (unixes, vax-vms, dos, windoze, mac, cray)
could share data and network resources thanks to something called
*standard* Protocols (have you ever heard about the International Standards
Organitation--Open Systems Interconnections (ISO-OSI) reference model??.

Well, do you have an idea how hard is to make that Sun Microsystems, DEC,
IBM and lots of manufacturers agree with a proposed standard?? Anyway, at
last they managed to agree. And now on 1995 there's a company author of a
cool but dirty -technically speaking netscape is bullshit, may I say- www
browser and pretends to *impose* *his* standard.

Well anyway, maybe there's a lot of people out there using NotScripe, but
an Open Systems Architecture means that your page at
<http://www.clark.net/pub/srp/home.html> should be readable on all kind of
platforms (not only Win95) but among others including Unixes (running
VT-100 or X Window System), VAX-VMS, MS-DOS, Mac's, Crays...).

And oh well, your page is cool, really.

But in fact *I cannot read a word* of your page here at my greyscale
monitor of my Sun SPARC box, because your background appears at my screen
as black. Black, dark black.

Well anyway, here I happen to have a Silicon Graphics IRIS Indigo and your
page appears really cool, may I say.

Are you really suggesting that all 40e6 people on the net should buy an
Silicon Indy??? Or should I downgrade to Win95???

Steve> ESPECIALLY if your using the new Netscape 2.0 browser.

As I said, you're a lucky person if your hard disk hasn't been erased in
the last few clicks at your Not Escape 2.0J(ava). Have you ever heard about
security holes?? Have you ever hard about the SSL-bug?? Netscape allways
said that his encryption algorithm was 100% secure to send private and
confidential information until two bored students at Berkeley cracked his
(deficient) implementation of the algorithm.

Oh really, Java is still in beta phase and Not Escape 2.0J makes a
Java-complient browser that crashes 50% of the applets!!! Should I now
trust that no architecture-independent-viruses, no finger-attacks, no
intruder-trojan-horses may attack my system with just a click on Not Escape

Oh really, as I said, netscape it's cool, really cool. But dirty, really
dirty too. And *really* dangerous. Netscape could kill the internet, some
people out there are now suggesting.

So go right ahead with your bgcolor until some Java trojan horse makes the
following on *your* system:

$ rm -rf /

Well I don't know if you're fond on Unix, the last 9-character command
erases without confirmation in 2 seconds all the system files, user zones
and absolutely *everything* on a Un*x box.

And Java is architecture-independent, so be warned.

Steve> You asked about the accents. Your first letter came through showing
Steve> the tilde over the "n" (=F1) just fine, but you second note looked a
Steve> bit funny. For example it put and "s" for =F3 (o with an accent)
Steve> some "a" did not have accents ( in the word "m=E1s" for example) and
Steve> some times there was accents all by themselves. This is strange
Steve> because I use the MIME complient EUDORA vs. 1.52 and usually I get
Steve> all the accents and stuff. If I get something from a non MIME
Steve> complient mailer I get the ASCII code (ex: &3G) instead of the
Steve> accent. Your 2nd message was the first one I've seen like this.

Steve> BTW - I run Windows 95

mmhh, well, may I suggest that's the reason??? Windoze95 =3D Mac84 !!!

Anyway, what follows is a friendly, not ironical and real proposal of this
student trying to finish his Master Thesis here at Erlangen:

Could you please help me on my Thesis? I need the opinions of somebody like
you fond on surfin' the net and on sending commercial spams^H^H^H^H^H^H
messages on the Net. Just a reply to this mail, with your opinion on my
opinions would be sufficient for me.

Would you do that for me? Oh thanks!! Can your address appear in the
acknowledgements part of my thesis?? Oh thanks!!!

[That was a *true, sincerely* offer to help me in my project just with your
opinion on the topics of this mail]

Steve> PS Have you checked out Editorial Gedisa's or my page yet? Let me
Steve> know what YOU think!

See my comments on the bgcolor nhtml tag. ;-)

Well have a really nice day fightin' against those hacker' attacks that
probably will your site become in the next few days.

[ehem, maybe your company needs a network security advisor? May I suggest
an unemployed catalan guy here at Erlangen? ;-)]
- - - - - --------------------------------------------------------------=
Date: Tue Dec 5 16:32:05 1995

Hi Steve,

I'm really pleased and thankful with your answer. It sure will be included
partially with my self, personal view and other contributions from other
sources at the appendix of my paper where I will try to explain, in a
sometimes humorous, sometimes serious point of view, what is the state of
the art of our lovely Internet by now: Arpanet'95.

>>>>> "Steve" =3D=3D Steve R Peterson <srp@gedisa.com> writes:

Salva> I don't know what you or Gedisa think about or if you have ever
Salva> heard about commercial spams and hosts and powerful sites closed by
Salva> hacker-attacks (just people angry because somebody tried to use his
Salva> lovely internet to >make some business)

Steve> Your right - in a way it is spamming. But you must understand =

mmh, yeah, that's what I supposed and that's why you didn't received an
attack yet from mephisto.informatik.uni-erlangen.de ;-). You sure won't
become it as far I am concerned. By the way, have you received any
attack/complain from anybody out there about your "softspamming"??

Steve> Where there is money to be made, there will be people ready to take
Steve> advantage of this, for better or worse. Take Netscape for
Steve> example. Your right - it is dirty and is not sticking with the
Steve> proposed standards and protocols but with the demand from
Steve> businesses for slick in-line images, plug-ins , and colorful pages,
Steve> of course, Netscape is going to develop thier own extensions to
Steve> handle this. Do you blame them?

Steve> Who wants to see a plain dull grey background and black text when
Steve> you can use colors (and gifs,jpegs) for your background and
Steve> text. Why not use frames and Client-side image maps? Let face it -
Steve> Netscape is moving ahead and pushing the limits of what one can do
Steve> with a home page.

Why don't take then *real* html3.0 or the Arena browser from W3O
<http://www.w3.org/hypertext/WWW/Arena/0.96>??. It's a cool, multiple
asynchrone multithreaded connections, real html3.0 browser too, and it's
clean, well behaved and following the standards!.

Steve> And why? Because there is money to be made.

oh, I see. Still, why don't arena, for instance?? [unfortunately Arena is
more of a experiment and test field for the html3.0 spec and the
WWW-Library of Common Code, but still, it's a good browser!]

Steve> As a business (or basically your average net-surfer) you probably
Steve> don't care if your following "set" protocols (your average user
Steve> probably doesn't even know what they are) you going to want a cool
Steve> page full of graphics, frames ect....Apparently it's working - like
Steve> a I said before 80% of the browsers on the net are Basically,
Steve> Netscape is giving people what they want,

oh well...it's the eternal question: does the marketing follow the tastes
of the market or viceversa???

Steve> Salva, I think the days of the Internet as we know it today are
Steve> numbered........

yeah, I agree with you. But it's up to all of us here on the net to decide
which way to follow, isn't it??

Salva> Well anyway, maybe there's a lot of people out there using
Salva> NotScripe, but an Open Systems Architecture means that your page at
Salva> <http://www.clark.net/pub/srp/home.html Salva> should be readable
Salva> on all kind of platforms (not only Win95) but among others
Salva> including Unixes (running VT-100 or X Window System), VAX-VMS,
Salva> MS-DOS, Mac's, Crays...).

Steve> Like I mentioned above....if 80% of the people on the net are using
Steve> Netscape why bother trying to design something that will please
Steve> everyone, or rather, people using LYNX, Mosaic, ect... My page is
Steve> designed for the browser Netscape and anyone using this browser can
Steve> see it

Well not really. I have for instance problems reading your page with both
netscape 1.12 and netscape 2.0 on my greyscale monitor, as you can see in
the gif screenshots available at
I hope you can decode this zip file, please make me notice if you have a
problem or whatever)

Steve> To be perfectly frank and honest with you Salva, if someone is
Steve> still surfing the net using LYNX or some other text-only browser,
Steve> they're probably so far behind the times in everything that I
Steve> really don't care if they can see my page or not - missing out one
Steve> or two people no and then is not going to break my heart.

Well, as you can see from the screenshots, I think you're going *too far*
with your netscape tags. Not only lynx, but Mosaic, Arena, tkWWW *can't*
read *a word* of your page. Is this what you wanted?? Do you get money
=66rom Netscape to make of your page only-netscape-viewable?? I mean, wha=
t do
you take in profit with this decission? I mean, it's not *so* difficult to
please not only 98% but 100% of the people out there...;-)

Steve> Something interesting - I run a backend CGI program that
Steve> e-mails me everytime someone comes to my page, For example,
Steve> this was you:

Steve> " From: NET@listserv.clark.net
Steve> Date: Fri, 1 Dec 1995 04:57:08 -0500
Steve> To: srp@clark.net
Steve> Content-Length: 80

Steve> faui70f.informatik.uni-erlangen.de in Germany was the 620th to
Steve> visit this page"

Steve> The "NET" tells me that you were using Netscape 2.0b
Steve> (hmmmmm..interesting).

oh well, I use among others netscape2.0J, netscape1.12, Mosaic, arena,
lynx, tkWWW and my self-written-still-not-perfect wwwbrowser...I'm writing
a paper on www clients, as you sure remember...

Steve> Your right. Java is still in the BETA phase. Even though I use
Steve> Netscape 2.0, I don't mess with Java Aplets. Not safe enough. But
Steve> give it time.....

Good, you're a responsible and informed computer user. But what about
trillions of people out there seduced with the *cool* applets that soon or
later will erase their hard disks??? Is it not *too* dangerous??? Do you
have an idea what an architecture-independent-trojan-horse is capable of?
Aren't we risking *too* much for just a couple of *cool* java-animations???

Steve> I assume that your not fond of the Windows operating system. I'm
Steve> not even going to touch this one - Windows vs. Mac

oh well, I'm not a mac-guy (although I would choose mac vs windoze if I
were forced to) but more of a linux-un*x-guy. Yeah, linux has the best
qualitity/price ratio in the market: 1/0 =3D infinity, isn't it??

Steve> You probably are right with a lot of your points. You are the
computer Steve> expert, not me.

oh please, I'm only a humble student here.

Steve> But would will be interesting to talk again in a year or so. If the
Steve> WWW changes at the same pace as it did in the past year.....well,
Steve> let's just say that you and I probably both will be have proven
Steve> right (and wrong) on some of our views.

As I said, the www doesn't evolve on its own. It's up to the users, up to
you and me, which way to follow.

Steve> I hope that this letter helps you with your paper. You probably
Steve> don't agree with me on some of my views but that's OK - everyone is
Steve> entitled to his or her opinion, correct or not - right?

Oh really my most sincere thanks. And you're right, everyone is entitled to
his/her opinion. And that's precisely the beauty and greath of our lovely
and sometimes misused Internet, in my humble opinion. And that's why I'm so
engaged with my paper nowadays and asked for your help. Of course I'm
willing for your feedback again [but please take your time, don't forget
your duties at Gedisa. For me it's much better and precious a reposed, long
awaited mail than a short and fast reply]. Ask your colleagues/friend at
Gedisa/whereever too. All kind of point of views are welcomed here.

Steve> BTW- I got your mime-attached gifs. Nice touch!

I hope you get the *huge* zip file with the gif screenshots too.

See ya, molt=EDssimes gr=E0cies de veritat,
- --
Salvador Bosque i Puy <Salva.Bosque@stud.uni-erlangen.de>
URL: http://www7.informatik.uni-erlangen.de/~srbosque
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