Chapter 16. Epilogue

It’s been four years since I first began the research and development efforts that led me to write this book. That’s quite a while, as Internet time goes. A lot has changed since Netscape’s products first demonstrated the vision of Internet groupware that continues to inspire me. And yet that vision is, in many ways, still not yet real.

We’ll always remember Netscape’s browser as the engine that propelled the World Wide Web to the forefront of public awareness and became the first truly universal software client. That was a tremendous achievement, but Netscape’s agenda was even more ambitious. What I’ve been calling the standard Internet client—that is, a suite of applications including a web browser, mailreader, and newsreader—is really a Netscape invention. In Communicator and its clones, the idea was to integrate a bunch of Internet protocols and applications into a common framework. We would use the browser to interact with hypertextual documents and forms-based applications. We would use the messaging tools to interact with people. Eventually the boundaries would blur, and the tools we’d use to produce and consume documents and applications would be the same ones we’d use to communicate with individuals and groups.

Perhaps Internet time isn’t what it used to be, now that Netscape is just a division of AOL. The marriage of the standard Internet client’s web and messaging components, which was promised in the 4.x browsers, is still not yet consummated. Communicator ...

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