Social problems and technical fixes

Tim Bagot wrote to <> on 3 September 2002 in "Re: <meta>
tags and their practical use"

> Such a way already exists, and can be read by the current generation of
> proxies: HTTP headers. These also have the advantage that they can be used
> for all files, not just HTML documents. The usual response to this is that
> many free hosting providers do not allow their users to modify HTTP
> headers. This is a problem not with HTTP or HTML, but with those
> providers. They could easily allow modification of the cacheability,
> Content-Type, etc. headers if they actually cared.

Tim has touched on a much larger issue.  In the World Wide Web, there
are various problems which are entirely, mostly, or essentially social
in nature.  How best do we solve these problems?

There are some people who are inclined to solve every problem with a
technical fix.  I, on the other hand, am wary of the technical fix for
social problems; in retrospect the truth sometimes emerges that what was
technical was not really a fix at all.

Surely, though, there are social problems which cry for technical fixes
(for example, patent restrictions prodding the development of Portable
Network Graphics).

How do we distinguish social problems which want technical fixes from
social problems which cannot abide technical fixes?

Etan Wexler <>

Received on Thursday, 5 September 2002 17:33:41 UTC