I see maps of the Internet
At Sun Microsystems back in 1994 we were working on a programming language we called Oak (later renamed "Java") to enliven the Internet with new programming capabilities. We envisioned a new browser called "Liveoak"; it would be written in Oak and would therefore be extensible. Not only would the pages in the web metaphor be extensible, but the metaphors themselves would also be extensible. The most important metaphor we intended to add to the web would be maps for navigation.
Since that time the Internet has grown wildly. People spend a lot of time wandering around the web. Notice that I didn't say "surfing", which seems an inappropriate term to me. Most Internet users seem to wander and too often, they get lost. The familiar "forward" and "back" buttons at the top of every browser hardly capture the complexity of the space Internet users are navigating. Remembering URLs is difficult and unforgiving and accumulating bookmarks provides small comfort to most people.
Aha! I used the word "navigate". Netscape Navigator has the proper name: the net needs to be navigated. But while the web has grown enormously in the past five years, most people on the Internet still wander around without the benefit of a good map.
The time has come for more use of maps in the Internet. In 1994 I bought and perused many books about mapmaking. Maps have a wonderful history, and my reading led me to think a lot about how maps need not correspond to physical space. Maps can introduce whole new geographies. Mapping the network to discover these geographies is one important way of mining the information needed to create these new navigational aids.
To navigate an everexpanding web, we need many different kinds of maps. Carpe diem.
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