1981 - NewsPeek
   1983 - GIN
   1989 - SmarTV
   1992 - GenMagic
   1994 - CDML
   1994 - Social Ads
   1996 - Venue OS
   1999 - Lumeria
   2001 - OpenPrivacy

* The History Behind Broadcatch

CDML - The Cooperative Distributed Meta Librarian (1994)

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Broadcatch Technologies plans to enhance peoples' lifestyles by providing high quality access to information. The use of our agent-based technologies will provide:

  • increased access (through the vast internetworks)
  • increased quality and decreased quantity (via intelligent filtering)
  • a high level of trust and confidence in results
  • support for anonymity and privacy

The development of the National Information Infrastructure (NII), being pushed by the Whitehouse and business alike, is opening up the heretofore somewhat closed Internet community to the population at large, and further, to nearly overwhelming opportunities in the commercial world.

The NII, colloquially known as the Information Superhighway, will expand and extend the work started with the Internet, which is now a vast collection of heterogeneous computers and networks connected and communicating together. In anticipation of this effort, several new networks are being designed and implemented. These include offerings by U.S. West and Time-Warner, Bell Atlantic and TCI, and General Magic and AT&T, some of which may include gateways to the Internet, but that is not their prime carrier or information source. Each of these networks aims to solve existent problems with current network technology, the primary two being their difficulty of use and the lack of easy advertising and sale of products.

One of the major obstacles that the developers of new network systems face is that of personally directed access, or as Bruce Sterling put it, "attention":

What's information really about? It seems to me there's something direly wrong with the "Information Economy". It's not about data, it's about attention. In a few years you may be able to carry the Library of Congress around in your hip pocket. So? You're never gonna read the Library of Congress. You'll die long before you access one tenth of one percent of it. What's important -- increasingly important -- is the process by which you figure out what to look at. This is the beginning of the real and true economics of information. Not who owns the books, who prints the books, who has the holdings. The crux here is access, not holdings. And not even access itself, but the signposts that tell you what to access -- what to pay attention to. In the Information Economy everything is plentiful -- except attention. [Sterling]

Several providers are offering "personalized information" products. These services usually operate from a "profile" that the subscriber registers with the provider. The provider feeds this profile into various proprietary rules and filters to determine a match set from their database which is mailed or otherwise conveyed to the subscriber.

Recent developments on the Internet, such as NCSA's World Wide Web project and the Mosaic WWW browser, are exemplary of technology's maturity in the presentation and user interface area, but serious difficulties remain in finding the information that one is actually looking for, unless one already knows where to look.

Enter Broadcatch Technologies. We have a plan that we believe will grow into a complete solution. Through the use of our broadcatching user agents and a powerful adaptive user interface, the user may better focus their attention ultimately providing subscribers with the best possible access, and providers with an increased revenue stream.

The Cooperative Distributed Meta-Librarian protocol (CDML) is defined to provide mechanisms for sharing several new types of objects, which include fitness functions, resources and services, and publishing (advertising). A fitness function may be anything from a simple table lookup to a trusted (human) editor, including one's self. Resources include physical information, computational services, disk space, and even resource requests. Any of these objects may be advertised for use or requested to be found. Strong cryptographic mechanisms are employed to support privacy and authentication services.

CDML Features:

  • a low-level protocol
  • ubiquitous -- in the public domain
  • initially implemented in Telescript
  • provides a method for locating information and services (seek)
  • provides a method for negotiating transactions (negotiate & buy)

The term broadcatch denotes a many-to-one relationship of information sources to the subscriber and filtering to make this form of information access less overwhelming. Because CDML is ubiquitous it provides a common method for individuals and commercial entities to transact business and transfer information in a system independent manner. In addition, a collection of interface objects is specified which can be tailored to meet an individual's needs and interests across a wide variety of application domains. The framework built by these tools supports two key results:

  • everyone is empowered to become a provider simply by advertising goods or services (even service requests) through the use of their negotiating broadcatch agents
  • there is no distinction between information, services and (physical) products -- in essence, the CDML negotiations are context-less.

The protocols and interface suggested here are unique in that they are not dependent upon a specific shopping venue or service provider, nor do they distinguish between information and goods/services. Further, CDML allows transactions to occur point-to-point i.e. between individuals using the same interface for all transactions.

Bruce Sterling, from a speech to the Library Information Technology Association, June 1992, San Francisco CA

Page Created: Saturday, June 25, 1994
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