WWW94: the microcosm link service and its application to the web


presented by les carr, wendy hall, hugh davis and rubert hollom, university of southampton, UK
the authors unveiled one of the major constraints of the current World Wide Web implementation: the static nature of the embedded links. once a HTML document was written, it may contain a number of links to other documents on other systems on the network. if these other documents get deleted or moved to another location, the original document still contains that link. if a reader wants to follow that link, she or he runs in a dead link which is a waste of time and resources and frustrating. currently the only way to solve this problem is to modify the original document.

the idea behind microcosm is to take away the links from the document and to put them into a separate database, called a linkbase. but microcosm goes much further: it allows any "presentation system" (word processor, spreadsheet etc.) to access any type of document by introducing a three layer abstraction model:

with this model, there are no links inside the documents. as a matter of fact, anything within the document can be used as an argument to the link services. the link services return a list of links to related documents as a hypertext document. because of the dynamic nature of the linkbase, deleted or removed documents do not lead to dead links.

the link services include so called filters which allow to apply rules to requests, so the link services can return different results to the same query depending on the set of rules setup for that request.


to me, this talked addressed a major problem of WWW. on the other hand, microcosm seems to be a different approach to the same idea: presenting information.
what i would like to see in the web is what i would call "logical links" or "virtual links". these links would still be embedded in the HTML document, but the actual destination of the link could be changed at any time. this would introduce some dynamism to the document but would preserve the current HTML style.
i have no link information for this paper on the web.
1st_day_ucosm / 13-jun-94 (ra) / reto ambühler