Coding with Jesse

File formats of the future

June 19th, 2006

After reading Tantek write about file formats, I've been thinking about what will happen to file formats in decades or centuries from now. Tantek says,

"I feel quite confident storing files in the following formats: ASCII / "plain text" / .txt / (UTF8 only if necessary), mbox, (X)HTML, JPEG, PNG, WAV, MP3, MPEG"

I agree, for the short term. But will JPEG be around in a hundred years? What about MP3?

I think we can make some assumptions about the future. For example, disk space will continue to grow and get cheaper, and bandwidth will get faster and cheaper as well. This leads me to think that compressed lossy formats will disappear. Why store in a JPEG when a PNG or even RAW format will do? Why store in MP3 when a WAV will do?

Okay, I don't think we will necessarily store in the least compressed format. I think we will use a format which uses lossless compression, so that the sound/image doesn't change at all. It won't make sense to lose quality to gain disk space anymore.

What about HTML? Oh, I don't know. This is a big question. The web is very new and it's not clear the direction it's moving in. We are using HTML, CSS and JavaScript in ways it was never intended to create desktop-style applications. I think application markup languages like XUL, XAML or even HTML 5 will take off where HTML leaves off, and we'll have no reason to continue abusing HTML the way we have been.

For hyperlinked documents, I believe (X)HTML will stay around for a very, very long time. CSS can grow and change and add display functionality on top of HTML. Put does HTML need to change? Do we need anything more than headers and paragraphs, with span or div tags together with classes to accomplish anything not built into HTML? I don't believe so.

It will be interesting to watch formats and standards evolve over the coming years and decades. I think one day, people will look back at these times with a smile on their faces, enjoying our naivety in these early years as we try to figure everything out.


Distributism

April 11st, 2006

I was reading Tara Hunt's blog, in which she talks about how communism relates to cluetrain, the "new" web, and all the great stuff we're seeing happen on the Internet. I think she was absolutely right to suggest the distributed nature of the Internet will let the common people take power away from the ruling class.

She's had to fight off a lot of criticism though, since communism has such a negative connotation, especially in America. But communism, ie. The Communist Manifesto, has nothing to do with killing people or Hilter or whatever. It's just about bringing power to the people. Well, it seems like it's an argument that's impossible to win so she's had to focus closely on marketing, with Pinko Marketing.

I think there's a lot of value in this comparison though, outside of marketing. So, I'd like to suggest another -ism that doesn't have the same negative connotation, but nicely captures the same spirit of Power to the People: Distributism.

The idea behind Distributism is (from Wikipedia): "the ownership of the means of production should be spread as widely as possible among the populace, rather than being centralized under the control of a few state bureaucrats (some forms of socialism) or a minority of resource-commanding individuals (capitalism)".

This relates to a ton of things happening these days. Think of "the means of production" in terms of music recording technology, self-publishing, video technology, etc. and the "minority of resource-commanding individuals" as the music, book, magazine and movie industries.

Like I was talking about recently, the Internet is bringing power to the average person in many ways, including in business. More and more people are becoming entrepreneurs. Some people even quit their job, go independant, then turn their old job into their first client, fulfilling the same role they did before. Yes, someone can switch from being employed by a company to being independant and still working for the company, and hardly anything changes. Why doesn't everybody do this?

Well that's kind of the concept of Distributism (or what I gather from it anyway). Ideally, everybody would have their own business. People would get together to form partnerships or co-operatives to share some resources and achieve common goals. People who have their own business, entrepreneurs, artists, or whatever independant people are just that: independant. This is really Power to the People.

This is the future of the web. Individuals doing whatever they want, making a living from it, starting their own microbrands and picobusinesses. People coming together from across the world to work together. No longer does one need a lot of money to create a successful business. No longer does one even need to leave the house to do something big in the world.

This isn't just the future of the web. It's the future of the world.

Thoughts? Agreements? Arguments?


Patching Worm

August 29th, 2005

If someone were to write a worm that went around the Internet, eliminating the vulnerability of the computers it passes through, is that immoral? Is it illegal? Since the worm is doing no damage (unless you consider patching a hole to be damaging somehow), I wonder what the implications would be. What would people say if Microsoft released a patching-worm before someone released a damaging one?