1. This story is about electronic information services. For ease of reading, we usually omit the ‘electronic’. Hypertext is computer-based text containing embedded ‘links’ to associated texts. Multimedia is the integration of text, graphics, sounds and video sequences, presented using a computer.
  2. The readiness with which the Web’s Universal Resource Locators (URLs) are included in print media is discussed in the penultimate section which reexamines significant reasons Why The Web.
  3. These lines have been designed primarily for transmission of human voice using an analogue electrical signal which is directly proportional to the air pressure variations that are the normal physical medium of speech and other audible sounds.
  4. A ‘bit’ is a binary digit, represented by an on or off signal.
  5. Source: a Pacbell ISDN installation specialist who is also the father of ‘Richelieu’, wizard of Diversity University—a connection we return to much later in this story.
  6. I have written elsewhere (Smith, 1992) about what I would now describe as the cybernetic feedback between the use and the design of those media, developing some ideas of John Hinckson (1992).
  7. Various expansions of this acronym coexist. My preference in ‘Windows Icons Menus Pointer’. It is sometimes used in a derogatory fashion by ‘real programmers’ who seem to think that the neophytes should have to learn lots of technical details before being allowed near a computer.
  8. The Australian Beginning was originally intended to be called The Australian Source, until an objection was raised by Readers Digest, who owned The Source until they sold it to CompuServe several years later.
  9. As late as 1988, CompuServe’s hierarchical menu structure clearly reflected the importance of individual computer users as clients with computer information and services being the subject of a large fraction of the menu items.
  10. The count depends very much on what level of service is considered, many more persons having Internet e-mail addresses (often through ‘weakly connected’ networks) that having full access to the World Wide Web. There is no way of doing any accurate census as many serious Internet users have ‘accounts’ on a number of computers, each of which gives them a separate valid Internet address, and there are unavoidably many inactive accounts. Some profile of the intensity of use by number of users would be a very useful statistic, but, in its absence, maybe the best indication of the reach of the Internet is given by the strength of its coverage by the general media.
  11. For example, the role of the Australian Vice Chancellors Committee (AVCC) as the owner of the Australian Academic Research Network (AARNet).
  12. While it has become so familiar that it can nowadays be used without explanation, the acronym ‘CD-ROM’ is in fact a rather uneasy combination of ‘CD’ for ‘Compact Disk’, which is more than familiar in the entertainment media, and ‘ROM’ for ‘Read Only Memory’, which is otherwise a kind of computer memory chip with its contents permanently fixed. While CD-ROM also has its contents fixed, so do music CDs and most of their other derivatives. What distinguishes CD-ROM from CD is its inclusion of a computer disk directory structure, computer-readable content and software.
  13. For example: Rand and Robyn Miller’s multimedia adventure game Myst, published by Broderbund; and Australian pop group GF4’s Sooner or Later, a music CD incorporating ActiveAudio developed by Sydney-based Pacific Advanced Media Services which makes it function as a CD-ROM on a Macintosh or under Windows.
  14. Foucault has much to say about the role of institutions in the ‘normalisation’ of human behaviour which is entirely consistent with the role of standards, guidelines and induction procedures in constraining our application of the information technologies.
  15. Amongst the Internet community there is probably more ‘religious’ fervour over technical issues that over the social and moral issues where this anarchy often confronts the standards of the broader community.
  16. CERN has recently worked with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to establish the ‘World Wide Web Consortium’ under the chairmanship of Berners-Lee and with membership open to (and largely taken up by) all corporations who are working on Web-related products. The Consortium uses ‘W3C’ as the acronym for its own name and ‘W3’ alone, rather than the previously ubiquitous ‘WWW’ to refer to what we, for readability, in this essay have called “the Web”.
  17. Around 1987, Keith and I were responsible for the management of two separate development projects on opposite sides of the Pacific porting Sun Microsystems’ Network-extensible Windows System (Gosling et al 1994) to the Macintosh. Sun initially positioned us as rivals but, when we finally met, we found the kind of common bonds on which a productive collaboration could well have been based. Keith has also achieved a measure of notoriety for some of his unusual and innovative activities. These provided a major source for Ed Regis’s 1990 book on the wilder fringes inhabited by those inventing the future.
  18. Intermedia used the term ‘web’ to describe a specific project long before the term became capitalised in the World Wide Web.
  19. However, the content of some Intermedia webs have been adapted to World Wide Web formats.
  20. PARC has a number of projects to underpin collaboration—a field which is more formally referred to as ‘Computer-supported Cooperative Work’. These include more than one outgrowth of MOO.
  21. Despite our mutual interests in Xanadu and cybernetics, Andrew and I have yet to establish anything more than irregular contact. However the clear visibility of our areas of mutual interest which is provided through the medium of the Internet has enabled those few contacts to safely assume a shared understanding.
  22. The Sprawl (which is also known as ChibaMOO, both names being taken from Gibson’s Neuromancer) was the first of a growing network of interconnected WOOs which are open to all for all purposes in U.S. libertarian tradition. The same integrated Web-MOO technology is also used for specific, usually educational, purposes in projects such as WAXweb which is the hypermedia version of David Blair’s movie Wax: The Discovery of Television Amongst the Bees.
  23. MOO’s game playing heritage is retained through the use of ‘Wizard’ for the person who on a general Unix system would be the ‘sys. admin.’ (systems administrator).
  24. The NASA Ames research centre which hosts the other end to Melbourne University of AARNet’s, and thus Australia’s main, connection to the Internet is also in Mountain View.
  25. Sam’s group have also included ‘hooks’ in the WOO data structure to accommodate VRML descriptors related to the room/page. ‘Virtual Reality Markup Language’ is being developed by a group which came together at the first ‘real world’ Web conference to bring three dimensional spatial representations into the domain of the Web.
  26. The ordering of the six is not intended to imply anything about their relative significance. Rather, they loosely follow the traditional sequence of Aristotelean causes: material, efficent, formal, final.
  27. Richard Dawkins coined ‘meme’ in The Blind Watchmaker as the social analogue of the biological gene. The genetic distance between the closest related viable species is necessarily very small.
  28. The Principia Cybernetica Project welcome Web page is at
  29. For my purposes here it is sufficient to accept that mind is the primary function of the brain, be in conscious or subconscious, and that a mind deals with information through brain mechanisms which include the ‘firing’ of neurons, in such a way as will most likely benefit itself by taking appropriate action on the basis of its perception and memory.