Hello and welcome, friends of the Wider Web!
This week we passed a milestone that is worth taking a moment to appreciate. Apple gave us the first solid signals that WebXR on Safari will ship and that they are hiring to increase its development speed. Many teams who delayed uptake of WebXR because of lack of support from Apple will see this as a sign that the Wider Web is truly on its way.
I continued to hone my ability to cut through the overwhelming amount of misinformation about agreement technology that is spread by crypto-maximalists, chain-haters, sales-bots, and a surprising number of otherwise moderate people. There are smart and progressive projects by stable people in this space but it takes time and patience to find them among the energetic shills, shrills, and offensive profile illustrations.
Put on the kettle, unwrap the biscuits, and plump up the overstuffed chair because it’s time for another issue of the Transmutable News Weekly!
Today’s issue is sponsored in part by the nice folks who purchased the first four Tiny Memex in my limited series of 20. Each Memex is a hand-made 1:6 scale desk and intellectual tool inspired by Vannevar Bush’s 1945 essay “As We May Think.” More will be available as soon as I can source additional Raspberry Pi computers.
Apple’s phone OS team released a beta version of iOS 15.4 with experimental WebXR support in Safari. Long-time Safari developer, Dean Jackson, also put out a call for help with development of WebGPU and WebXR.
One active area of research for agreement technology is, naturally enough, consensus algorithms. How do groups of people trust that everyone is seeing the same information? Whether it’s counting votes, tracking transactions, or storing public declarations of love, consensus algorithms are key. I found Vaibhav Saini’s article from way back in 2018 (it seems so long ago!) to be a handy introduction to the core ideas that consensus algorithm designers deploy when creating these systems.
Speaking of consensus algorithms, more replication systems are coming online to help people in Wider Web spaces experience shared environments. In this tutorial the PlayCanvas team demonstrates how to use a Colyseus service to replicate state across clients of a PlayCanvas space.
It’s an interesting thought experiment to throw around the idea of replacing the web with a new tech stack but in most cases it’s more aspirational than actual. That might change as the Impervious Browser team revealed more information about the features (and a few standards) that they intend to build into their web browser replacement.