So I was reading an article on Pyramid recently, and the attendant discussion on the Pyramid discussion boards, which got me thinking. I often don't realize how much the internet has evolved in my lifetime, or how immersed I've been in that change. True, I'm no Great Old One who had the honor of dealing with punch-cards or actual terminals. But if those venerable souls were the ones who wrought the net from the unliving stone, then I am of the first progeny that genesis has spawned. Not even an early-adopter, for that would presume something to be adopted, but rather an embodiment of the time from which sprang the devices for adoption.
Looking back over the net, even just over my megre life, I have seen the invention and death of countless technologies. Technologies which have at their core the one simple truth about the internet. The net, as with the whole of human endeavor is concerned solely with the production and consumption of meaning, with the conveyance of thought and information.
To that end we have invented countless ways to communicate that meaning, from the very fundament of language itself, to books and radio and television, to bulletin boards, email, usenet, IRC, webpages, instant messaging, weblogs, newsfeeds, podcasts, voice-over-IP, wikis, and countless others. And over time we've seen the revival of a number of these forgotten souls in the new era from bulletin boards like Craigslist, to the reinvention of terminals with lessdisks, to the purported renaissance of IRC.
And yet, when e'er these ideas return they are thought of as novel and all too often they fear to look at their predecessors to learn from the faults of times past. An interesting thing is that the difficulties with each of these technologies are remarkable in their similarity despite their disparate implementations. The problem of spam originated on usenet if not before. And since then it has spread to email, IM, and even wikis. And so it is with the myriad of other difficulties.
Upon reflection, one thing which I find is lacking, is a unified system which categorizes these different technologies, a single language with which to discuss and compare them. A language which could be almost deceptive in its simplicity. There are a small number of axes on which these forms of communication can be rated.( One possible ontology follows )