Re: Agent-mediated access (was Re: Criticism of Kidcode...)

Peter Deutsch (
Wed, 21 Jun 1995 15:15:54 -0400

Message-Id: <>
From: Peter Deutsch <>
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 1995 15:15:54 -0400
In-Reply-To: Brian Behlendorf's message as of Jun 19, 23:55
To: Brian Behlendorf <>
Subject: Re: Agent-mediated access (was Re: Criticism of Kidcode...)

[ Brian Behlendorf wrote: ]
.  .  .
} > From our
} > perspective, it also is suboptimal since it requires users
} > to continue viewing the net in terms of access protocols
} > ("http://" indeed). 
} Well, proxy servers can support a wide variety of protocols, not just
} http-accessible URL's.  Just about every internet-related resource can be
} identified by a URL, and can thus be filtered by proxy. 

This really goes to the heart of what we are trying to do
with URAs - I don't think users should be thinking in
terms of protocols or URLs at all. The goal should be tools
that let us select net functions (eg. "Stock Quote", "Find
Music", "Book Search" - all URAs which are in use in Silk
now) and we'll leave the whys and wherefores of URLs (and
thus _any_ info about the transfer protocols and
rendering) to the URA authors. Mosaic/Netscape is a nice
tool, but it is _not_ the last word here.

Now, we're not quite there yet, but I strongly believe
that's the direction we should be working towards and why
we need local active agents. Once they are configured and
point to suitable servers, they can be shared with users
and will give us access based upon functionality, not

} > I want users selecting items based
} > upon names like "Stock Quoter" or "Book Search". Let the
} > object figure out how to find the server.
} Well, which "user"?  The end user (children) would never have to know 
} anything about URL's; in fact the teacher, if they subscribe to a 
} third-party filtering service, would never have to know either.  Just one 
} person in the chain - the most trusted point - would have to know.  At 
} some point the name-to-URL mapping takes place, and until URN's are 
} widely deployed there's not much choice.

Again, I urge you to get a copy of Silk, it does this now
and has a lot of potential for filtering and other post
processing, for those who need this.

} > I'm happy to use servers to supply a URA to the client for
} > execution, but want the executing code to be as close to
} > the user as possible. Otherwise we can expect scaling
} > problems with proxies being swamped by demand, and
} > security problems since users are still essentially armed
} > with a generalized browser and can potentially see the
} > entire net if your filtering fails.
} Right, I agree with all this - I'm envisioning proxy servers that are 
} very close to the community they serve.  Sufficiently close proxies 
} address all your concerns, I think.

I want to make clear I have no problem with the concept of
proxies. They don't address all the issues I want
addressed, but they certainly have a role to play here. I
just want us to move away from access layer based tools

					- peterd


  ...there is reason to hope that the machines will use us kindly, for
  their existance will be in a great measure dependent on ours; they will
  rule us with a rod of iron, but they will not eat us...

                                               - Samuel Butler, 1872