Re: Push-Technology and Technology News

Hal Finney (
Sun, 16 Mar 1997 11:13:34 -0800

There's something I don't understand about all the excitement over push.
It seems to me that the push concept conflates two relatively independent
ideas: content filtering, and when-available delivery.

Content filtering is what lets you select what you are going to see.
That's what we have now when you do a web search on a topic, or when you
bookmark a web page which serves as an index or entry into a subject of
interest. This is definately a good thing, but existing technologies leave
a lot to be desired. I have a hard time finding all the information I want
on the web (but the web is still orders of magnitude better than any other
alternative I have used, primarily libraries).

When-available delivery provides you information as it happens. This sounds
great for sports scores or the latest business news. Lots of stuff happening
there. But it's not clear to me that it applies that well to topics beyond
the most superficial popular subjects. Most areas that I am interested in
don't have that much progress. Maybe a new paper gets published every few
weeks or months that is really interesting or important.

What worries me is that it is just going to be TV all over again -
the lowest common denominator. Those areas which work best with push
are going to be the ones where information dribbles out all the time -
corporate press releases, soap operas, headline news, the stock market
ticker, the same old garbage. That's not what I go to the web for.
The web is an infinite library, holding all kinds of information.

The real problem is not in getting the information delivered, it is in
finding it. Once I've found a web page that provides a reasonably complete
overview of a field, with lots of other links to relevant pages, then I
have a good source. Yes, it would be useful to be notified when the links
change or some new information is provided. Push does have a place there.
But it's not going to revolutionize my usage of the web, unless the web is
just going to turn into TV.