16 years ago, Jon Udell wrote a white paper titled "Internet Groupware for Scientific Collaboration" that profoundly changed how I thought about the web. In many ways, it seems as futuristic today as it did then: despite all the technological advances of the last decade and a half, a two-way web built on top of a universal canvas is still mostly a dream.
Udell and others are now working on Thali, an attempt to create a truly distributed web. It, and projects like Ward Cunningham's Smallest Federated Wiki, are a more truly open model for science than the de facto centralization typified by Google, Facebook, Twitter, and GitHub, but it's not clear we'll choose the long-term robustness of the former over the short-term convenience of the latter.
I asked Jon if I could re-post IGSC here. He said yes, but on reflection, I realized that doing so would run counter to the spirit of what he's been trying to tell us. Instead, I urge you to click on this link and marvel at the everyday miracle that follows.
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