LINGUIST List 10.1166

Thu Aug 5 1999

FYI: Leaving notes on a Web-site

Editor for this issue: Anthony Rodrigues Aristar <aristarlinguistlist.org>


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  1. Koontz John E, Re: 10.1161, FYI: Conference Index, CHRISTINE, New Software

Message 1: Re: 10.1161, FYI: Conference Index, CHRISTINE, New Software

Date: Wed, 4 Aug 1999 17:24:24 -0600 (MDT)
From: Koontz John E <John.KoontzColorado.EDU>
Subject: Re: 10.1161, FYI: Conference Index, CHRISTINE, New Software

In regard to Shalom Zuckerman's comment "Leave notes on a web-site":
> There is a new (free!)program out there that allows you to leave and
> read notes on any website you visit. Anybody who visits the site can
> read your notes (there is also a possibility to post a note to a group,
> to a private person or to youself). ...
> The program is called uTok (I think it means user's tree of knowledge)
> ...

There are now several such programs - one that I tried is named Third
Voice. As far as I know, these all require users (writers and readers) to
install a plug-in in their browser, and all comments are actually stored
on the server operated by the plug-in distributor. The lifetime of the
comments, and their content, aren't in any way guaranteed, of course. I
experimented briefly with Third Voice, but concluded that it made
everything slower, and permitted an exact record of my browsing behavior
to be recorded and sold to what would now, I guess, be fourth or fifth
parties. This was more or less explicit in the user agreement. There is
apparently some chance that active content in the comments (provided by
the commentators, not the plugin distributor) might be dangerous, though
the plug-in distributors are naturally trying to prevent this. The
comments I discovered were entirely inane or scurilous or, apparently,
aphasic. It was rather disappointing in a way, since the idea sounds like
it has some potential, as Mr. Zuckerman suggests. 

It also clearly has some potential abuses. Comments are only restricted
by the policing of the plugin server operators and the good sense and
taste of the posters, and both might be lacking. Anyone who has gotten
mired in one of the more vituperative and voluminous of the UseNet news
groups can imagine what might happen if each mildly controversial web page
became a soap box for anyone with time on their hands, let alone what
might happen if an imaginative slanderer or purveyor of the offensive took
interest.

It might be interesting if the comments were stored on the server of the
page owner, at their option and expense and subject to their moderation.
It would be better if the process didn't result in commercial marketing of
browsing habits, i.e., if it were supported by the regular browsers and
servers without the participation of a commercial third (or fourth) party.
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