Writing the Web

Angelo di Iorio, Fabio Vitali


Ted Nelson's Xanadu remains an influential example of the way a world wide hypertext system should have been, allowing free access to hypertext pages for content customization and editing. This is still impossible or unacceptably difficult on the World Wide Web. Yet, the Web cannot be replaced, given the amount of data and tools that rely on its basic protocols and languages. The vision presented here is of an evolution of the Web where, within the current framework of technologies and tools, every Web page can be edited and customized, links can be created, and collaboration can be set up. In a way, this is a vision of Xanadu coming to life again, but within the framework of Web technologies, styles and tools. It is a vision of the best possible approach to a fully writable, distributed hypertext system within the limitations of real-life protocols. This writable web, already partially available with blogs and wikis, is enhanced through the implementation of xanalogical storage to take care of individual changes to documents, and mechanisms for transclusions. IsaWiki, a client-server system being developed at the University of Bologna, is presented and shown to adhere to this vision of the writable web, and as being a first step in that direction.

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