This is a short article comparing 'Everything 2' with the World Wide Web.

It's very likely that you are familiar with both of the above. They both allow information to be stored in what are known either as nodes or web sites. These nodes/sites are then linked together with hyperlinks.

The main differences are thus:
Everything is based on a central server and has a single controlling entity who is free to change Everything's working paradigm at any time. This means that Everything is open to the possibility of censorship and sudden change in its operation and functions. It also means that there is the possibility of inaccessibility due to high load and other scalability problems. The scalability issue means that Everything's content is limited to textual write-ups. If all of it's Noders were up-loading images, audio and binary data then the amount of storage space required would quickly surpass what could be offered by a single site.

The Web, however, being a distributed medium circumvents these problems. An organisation can set up their own web server and hence publish more or less any material they like. As the organisation is responsible for their own content they can buy storage as they require it. For high availability and reliability the organisation can install multiple servers at different locations. The Web has also matured to the level where there are many well known standards for providing media and can deliver a very rich range of content.

However, because Everything is a single centralised server under one authority, it can offer whatever features it likes. Currently, it allows you to add your own write ups to 'other peoples' nodes, dynamically creates hyperlinks based on peoples' reading habits and you can rate other writers' write-ups. These are three very interesting features sadly missing from the Web. Another advantage which stems from Everything's centralisation is that it is very easy to add new nodes - There's no cost and minimal technical expertise is required. It could be argued that this is the case for the Web as well though.

Like many other hosting sites, eg/ Geocities, Tripod, Everything tries to create a sense of community among its users. Everything tackles this in several important ways. Users can always see a list of other users and send them a message at any time. Also the very dense interlinking between nodes instills a sense of intimacy. By encouraging communication between users Everything instills a strong sense of community and fellowship.

I believe that functionality could be added to web pages which could take advantages of the lessons learnt by Everything. Using scripting languages dynamically created hyperlinks could be shown on web sites so that you could follow the 'path' of others before you. This would tightly connect your site to other relevent sites and be self updating.

Allowing others to update your site would be highly controversial. Certainly most companies whose sites are primarily virtual shop-fronts are not going to want to let people change them. However, in many areas people might be happy to add this functionality, again through the use of scripts. Forinstance, if someone has written an article (like this ;-) ) then it would be useful if others could post there thoughts or could note errors or improvements. This could be very useful for universities and researchers.

Back to the virtual shop front example and we can see that customers could use the dynamic links to link companies to sites with their opinions on the companies. This is unlikely to happen as companies are very nervous about their reputations and who they are associated with. It would however allow for greater public accountability as there would be links from the companies site to customers' pages where they could give feedback on how well they were served by the company.

I haven't yet talked about how a reputation-like rating system would fit in with the Web. I'm still thinking about it at the moment.

Currently Everything provides limited practical use but is an interesting free running, wild experiment in to the impact of different web paradigms. It would be interesting to see if people provide scripts to allow webmasters to add similar functionality to their own sites. I believe that from Everything's experiences we can make the Web a more effective medium for the transmission of ideas and information.

David Goodwin