[Techtalk] The Internet is my functional programming language

Kelly Jones kelly.terry.jones at gmail.com
Wed Nov 26 01:23:43 UTC 2008

Sarah, I think that's what I'm looking for.

Instead of having to hack/scrape a 100 different protocols, it'd be
nice if someone invented a "function server" that behaved something
like this:

% telnet functionserver.cornell.edu 81
OBJECT functionserver.cornell.edu/Math
Content-Length: 30

and get back something like: "<wddx><real>0.98865176285172</real><wddx>"

Obviously, I don't care if the data is sent/returned in WDDX format,
but it has to be a format that supports array, hashes, objects,
images (or binary data), etc.

Then, somewhere on the cornell.edu page there'd be an explanation of
what objects/methods their server supports. Or maybe changing "ACTION
call" above to "ACTION params" would return the method's signature?

This seems like a really really basic thing to do, even if you're just
scraping other people's data. Has anyone done anything like it?

I thought all the excitement about CORBA was about how objects could
live on the web and thin clients could access them?

Obviously, you could get fancier and let people create objects (like
hashes/lists), which is sort of what Amazon does with their "webstore"

We're just a Bunch Of Regular Guys, a collective group that's trying
to understand and assimilate technology. We feel that resistance to
new ideas and technology is unwise and ultimately futile.

On 11/24/08, Sarah Newman <newmans at sonic.net> wrote:
> There's no unified method to get everything you list AFAIK.  It's all
> piecemeal.
> Kelly Jones wrote:
>> For example, can I get the following information in machine readable
>> format?:
>>  % Current right ascension/declination of Mars.
>>  % Image (map) representing given latitude/longitude coordinates.
>>  % The mathematical constant Gamma to 10 decimal places.
>>  % The current temperature in Alice Springs, Australia.
>>  % The value of the US dollar vs the British pound.
>>  % Numerical approximations to the solutions for x^5+x+1=0
>> and so on.
>> I know much of this information is available in human-readable format
>> (Horizons, TIGER map, MathWorld, Weather Underground, OandA, etc), but is
>> it
>> available in consistent, machine-readable format?
>> I also realize I could write a script to convert the human readable
>> info to machine-readable, but that's tedious + seems silly.
>> The obvious extension would be to create a minimal programming
>> language that just knows XML + how to make socket connections. A
>> sample line of code might be:
>> @res = http://www.foo.com/function/NSolve.xml("x^5+x+1=0");
>> In other words, all the function calls would be "URLs" or something.
>> Has anyone done this?
>> The language would be slow/inefficient (one socket connection per
>> function call), but would be unlimited in some sense.
>> Of course, people could implement some of the more common functions
>> locally.
>> Thoughts?

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