This post comes from a page that was intended as the start of a long explanation which would (eventually) be punctuated with lots of diagrams and visual demonstrations in the form of Java applets.
This explanation will be both argument and tutorial. It should probably be at least two parallel arguments and tutorials, perhaps three. After just such a sentence there should be a link for the curious to click, in this case so they may find out why more than one strand is necessary. I’ll add such links as soon as I can, but for now the trick is to get as much text written as possible.
There are several points or topics to address. Most general is the concept of social technology . For now I’ll just refer you to the home page of SocialTechnology.ca but this concept will come up frequently here and will get a page of it’s own on this site. If we were to divide this discussion right now into two parallel strands, one way to do it would be to use people’s attitudes to the words ‘social’ and ‘technology’ as a criterion. People whose interest is aroused by the word ‘social’ but who are made uncomfortable by the word ‘technology’ deserve much different treatment from those we might characterize or caricaturize as anti-social technophiles — ‘geeks’ in recent terminology. Real people are less extreme, but I expect you understand the distinction.
But there are indeed several points or topics to address, and I want to cover as many as possible in ways intelligible by people near both extremes. That is going to be hard, I mean it will be very hard work for me, but I do not want the result to be hard for anyone to read, whatever their educational background and intellectual preferences. But I don’t want people to stop reading randomly to avoid material they expect to be difficult, so I will provide breakpoints for them to skip ahead in more suitable way.
These web pages may become a book — I hope they do. One way to describe the problems and possible solutions being presented here is to look at the task of turning a set of web pages into a book.