Monday, June 10, 2013

dubya, dubya, dubya

dubya, dubya, dubya

Remember "www"?  It was that prefix of letters seen on every web site, the clue that "this is a world-wide-web thingy".  But everything is on the web, so who needs the extra typing?  Sheesh ... what a hassle!

Let's get rid of useless hassles.  Let's get rid of redundant things.  Such waste.

whining, whining, whining

In context, that old "www" meant something.  In the context where the world wide web was created, there were other things.  The "www" sites were not all there was.  Originally, "" was but one of several computers or services on the internet (under the domain of "").  I am picking on Blogger since that is where I am posting.  As it happens, there is a "" which is presumably used for ... drum roll ... email.

You may notice that Blogger, turning out to be an excellent example, has lots and lots of "sites" under its domain.  YES.  That's what I'm talkin about.  Each one means something.  These are under "".  But this is not true for sites like Twitter.  (And it's not true for all blogging destinations.)

I blame excessive consumerism.  I blame "user laziness".  (Something about automobiles and the loose nut behind the wheel might fit here.)  (Being a loose nut myself, I can fairly jab at loose nuts everywhere.)  Twitter has a fixation on shortness, so they might actually get a hall pass this period.  Omission is not new.  People have been leaving off the "http://" part for years.  Ewww...  it's so ugly, so technical.  But that too actually meant something once upon a time.  (It means something even now.  You have been warned.)  Sorry, kiddo, you had to get a drivers license to hit the road.  Cars are technical and there's a certain amount of technical prowess the rest of us expect from you, Mr. Wheel Nut.  The format of a URL (that is, an internet web address) was well thought.  But it's technical, so maybe you need your computer license before you hit the information superhighway.

Sadly, even excellent engineering feats like Firefox add to the problem and push us further down the slippery slope.  (FF now removes the "http://" part even if I manually include it.  Look who's a loose nut now!)  (You can restore the original behavior if you aren't scared off by the warranty warning.)  Consumerism!

three legs to stand on

As I type this post, I am seated on a chair.  I could type just as well standing up, but since I will be at this keyboard for most of the day for many other reasons, I'll keep my seat, thank you.  Now ... a chair really only needs three legs.  We see this all the time.  In fact, three-legged chairs are quite fashionable.  So let's just whack one of the legs under me.  No thank you.  Removing one leg in this case would lead to ... drum roll ... instability.

Who cares?  Obviously, I care.  Obviously, I think others should care.  But it's reasonable to wonder why Sir Santa is spewing.  It happens that I was reading another excellent blog post about the current national crisis.  As with a lot of bloggers, this fellow does not have a "www" in his URL.  [sigh]  As it happens, he's having DNS problems (and makes a point that they are not "issues").  His DNS problems are probably not related to his omission of the dubya, dubya, dubya, but it's an interesting correlation.

The Point

I made a little analogy with chairs.  We're talking about structure.  The internet is losing structure in other ways.  (The glut of new top-level domains is a sign ... and a worry.)  If we believe in rough consensus and running code, then we don't always care.  But being a coder, I know that removing legs sometimes knocks you over when you don't expect it.  I happen to know an engineer who removed some working code recently.  He thought he should remove other code ostensibly to eliminate redundancy (redundancy being not a bad thing) and reduce overhead (overhead seen not in that case).  He is now experiencing problems with his new code, instability at least and maybe worse. 

So ... Maybe not all those hassles were useless.  Maybe not all the apparently redundancy was just for reasons of repetition.

Bring back the dubya, dubya, dubya.

-- R; <><