Welcome to Your Time-Based Webstream

The spacial structure paradigm of the Internet is quickly being replaced by a time-based lifestream paradigm, according to David Gelernter, a professor of computer science at Yale University.

Today’s operating systems and browsers — and search models — become obsolete, because people no longer want to be connected to computers or “sites” (they probably never did).

What people really want is to tune in to information. Since many millions of separate lifestreams will exist in the cybersphere soon, our basic software will be the stream-browser: like today’s browsers, but designed to add, subtract, and navigate streams.

Searching content in a time stream is a matter of stream algebra, which is easier than the algebra of space-based structures like today’s web. Add two timestreams and get a third (simply merge the AP news feed and my friend Freeman’s blog streams into time-order); and content search is a matter of stream subtraction (simply subtract all entries that don’t mention “cranberries” to yield all the entries that do). The simple, practical features of stream algebra have one huge benefit: giving us made-to-order information.

He posits that “Bring me what I want” is almost always more useful than “Let me rummage around and see what I can find.” That’s true.

Today, I finally got fed up with Microsoft Outlook at work not having threaded conversations. Turns out, it does, you just have to turn it on. So, I bitched on Twitter and 30 seconds later I had three people chime in with an answer to my year-long frustration. Not only that, but people following me on Twitter having the same problem were able to get that much-needed information.

I could have searched for that information, but it was easier for Twitter to bring me what I wanted.

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