Meanwhile Adobe's Apollo makes a lot of sense.
One thing I'm always curious about. Where is Javasript as a scripting language for desktop apps?
1 hour ago
I think maybe I should write a book about how you invent and promote standards for fun and profit, because what I'm doing here is exactly what I did when I started blogging, or publishing in XML and then RSS, or started pushing audio blog posts as enclosures in my RSS feeds. You start by putting two things next to each other that you think should work together. Then you shorten the distance, and shorten it again, and keep optimizing until you have something that other people could use. Then you tell them about it, and tell them again, and again and so on until you have a standard.
This phenomenon will happen in the browser space. I can assure you it will. It's an economic certainty. There's money at play here, lots and LOTS of money; every company in the world wants a cool website. Not just a cool website; they want cool apps. Companies are realizing — glacially, yes, belatedly, yes, but inexorably — that most people with computer access in the world today live inside their browser, and they'd prefer not to leave it.
"Everyone in the world" — that's an awful lot of money at stake.
The moral of the story is simple. You should see Heavy and YouTube as opposites in strategic error. Heavy doesn't create enough value consistently enough to be able to exert enough pressure to capture a significant share. YouTube, on the other hand, is creating a great deal of value - but also can't exert enough pressure to capture a significant share.
of course the money comes from selling weblogs.com. But Winer has no reason to try to mislead people and pretend he has other types of income. He's trying to expand your way of thinking about the economic model of blogs to *include* things like that deal.
Don't we all take ideas from elsewhere and mix and match them together? I've seen Winer sometimes more, and sometimes less, meticulous about setting the record straight about his influences. He credits them often enough that I think he's not deliberately trying to mislead, although, agreed, I've seen him lazily allow an interviewer call him things like the "inventor of RSS" without correcting that too. (My take is that Dave didn't invent RSS the way Ray Kroc didn't start McDonalds.)
Seems to me, one of the issues is that Dave's been around since the 70s and is copying ideas that were already current then. Today people say "why doesn't Winer credit TBL for the idea of a readable / writable web?" But Dave claims to have been working on outliner-shaped public discussions on buletin-boards in the 80s. If anything he should probably be crediting Plato. Or maybe Engelbart.
In terms of platform building, Winer's modus operandi has always been *incremental*. River of News for NYT and BBC is infinitessimal as a technological invention; it just makes the lives of one group of people (Blackberry users) a tiny bit easier.
But behind the scenes, lots of interesting things are going on : people are getting used to Dave's server becoming an intermediary to their news-reading lives. Pretty soon (I'm betting) there'll be OPML in there. For editing subscriptions, or filters or something else.
So Winer's made strategic links, wiring up various components and actors : big media, himself, mobile devices, an existing user base, OPML Editor, OPML, RSS.
Compare this to Apple's strategy for music. That worked because Apple had all the pieces : iPod as the mobile player, iTunes as the software for buying and recommending, their DRM format, *plus* big music companies willing to go with them. All the parts were there. A music player or service disconnected from this network may have been technically "better" in many ways, but the overall ecosystem from Apple was compelling.
Winer has nothing like the resources of Apple, but look, he's created the same shape of platform : he's got the content, he's got the nice reader, he's got the flow going through his middleware. And now he can start innovating on top of that. Like I say, I'm betting it will start with "edit your subscriptions in an OPML Editor" although Winer's hinting that it might also be "Edit your blog on the Blackberry" too.
Danny has lots of frustrations with Dave, but I think the real issue is that Dave's strategy of minimal incremental improvements plus link-making work with the grain of the web. Whereas the better, comprehensive standards that Danny works with, continuously fail because they are actually against this grain.
What is the shape of the web? Individualistic, opportunistic, one-way links. Anyone on the web can choose, by themselves, to make a link to anyone else. The only required standard is the URL. You don't need two-way co-ordination to make something happen. Yet links are hugely valuable (as Google discovered)
So, what is with the grain of this web? Individualistic link making; the quicker and dirtier the better. Or rather, the more links, the better. And quality is secondary.
Danny wants to make good quality links. He wants a group of smart people to come together to thrash out the right model for a type of data, one which eliminates ugly, funky problems, and is as flexible and generic as possible. Once the model is defined then it should be published and adhered to. How do I find out how to represent my data? I go and find the description of the model, try to read, digest and understand it, and then adhere to it.
Dave is continuously undermining Danny's way of doing things. He won't adhere to the codes for good link quality. Instead he makes valuable links as quickly as possible. (Where valuable means one that has a genuine application or usefulness to someone) Obviously this looks like sabotage from Danny's perspective. It invalidates the hard-work of the people who design the good links, and their attempts to get consensus. And, yes, leads to poorer quality links. (Although not so poor that the culture can't adapt to and live with their deficiencies.)
Winer doesn't do this to be evil. It is a matter of intuition. To me he looks like someone genuinely at home on the web. He lives there. He "washes" there. Of course what he does is with the grain.
dave : I think you're too ad hominem about Danny. I'd like to talk about ideas here.
others : yes (gotta rush)
The way technology works, for those who care about such things: Start with a vision you believe in, and keep trying to find ways to show others how powerful it is. Over and over, often for years.
Right now, I agree, that web-based simulcra of existing desktop apps are very unlikely to take off.
Why, really, would I want a web-version of Word? If I want something free, then Open Office is as good.
However, apps which are inherently social. and those which deal with online databases, are already native to the web-as-platform.
After GMail, I can't imagine a compelling reason to switch back to non-web-based email client. Nor an offline blog editor etc.
So I think we *will* see a sudden and dramatic shift to web-based applications, particularly in the enterprise, but it's going to be accompanied by a sudden shift to a whole new way of working with new tools. Not a web way to handle Word and Excel files, but a realization that in the age of blogs and WikiCalc we don't actually *need* Word files and Excel spread-sheets 99.99% of the time.
Unlike you, I think this will happen, and I think it's going to switch very fast. It's not something you'll really see coming in long-term rising trends of adoption.
Word benefits from a network effect. When whatever replaces it, replaces it, a sizable chunk of the whole network will have to go almost at the same time. Before this, very little will show up on the radar.
I buy the web 2.5 concept, of course, but my betting is that it's going to be coming via the web-as-a-platform, rather than from desktop / machine-centric software.
So, at some point in the near future, someone will come up with a derivative of Firefox which
a) has its own local database to store as much user data as needed without creating a security holes on your computer,
At which point what's the difference between your web 2.5 concept and the mainstream web-as-a-platform service model?
Users will go to a site, implicitly grabbing the application, which will be cached locally, along with the user's data, for offline work. The data will be synced back with the central or cloud servers whenever reconnected. Similarly, the application software will be written as if served centrally, and kept continuously updated, but will be cached locally to minimise network traffic and for offline use.
My feeling is that software-as-a-service is inevitable *as a business model* given two truths about software development :
a) large-scale software development sucks
Trying to specify and build and deploy a large-scale piece of software in one lump (two to three year project) is an incredibly difficult and inefficient way to do it.
It makes far more sense to develop according to iterative Agile / eXtreme methodologies, releasing small new incements of functionality on a regular basis.
The problem with eXtreme or agile development is that it's very difficult to *sell*. Customers want fixed time, cost and functionality negotiated in advance; they don't want an open-ended commitment to funnel money to developers.
How do you reconcile the contradiction : monolithic development sells, monolithic development sucks?
Microsoft used to have an answer, before free-software destroyed it.
SaaS offers another : rent the software, which can be either hosted by the provider or, for convenience and confidentiality, brought inside the organizational firewall.
In practice, installing it in-house is another form of local caching, and is a mere implementational detail for something which at the business level is treated as a service.
In short, this is gonna happen because companies producing SaaS will be more agile and get better quality software written, faster, than those sticking to large scale product development.
In practice, you may have local copies of both the software and your data, but that will be "mere" optimization (and certainly not to be planned "prematurely" :-)
PS - No, despite what Paul Graham tells you, the moral of this story isn't about Google economies of scoping Kiko to death. It's that Kiko's innovation wasn't revolutionary or challenging enough.
If you build software to solve a particular business problem, though, isn't it likely to taste bad when you go and install it somewhere else?
Seems to me that, from [a Hagelian] perspective, what the media 2.0 people have done is succesfully unbundled their infrastructure management by delegating it to blogging software, but they still have to decide if they're primarily in product innovation or customer relationships.
If they're in product innovation, they have to find someone else to bring customers to them.
Or, are they really in the customer management business ie. owners of a fanatical audience, looking for any way to serve that audience? In this case, they probably don't need to be bought; finding, servicing and growing their own audience is core to them.
So I'd interpret Calacanis as basically a product innovation guy, going to AOL is his way to get his hands on a bigger audience and getting paid for his innovation. Once in AOL he keeps trying to develop new products, trusting he can sell them to AOL's existing users.
Arrington is a customer relations guy, adding things like a job-board allows him to serve his existing audience in more ways. In essense he's a taste-maker, and could be reselling products from anywhere. What matters is his understanding of what his readers want.
Getting bought by a large media 1.0 company wouldn't make much sense for TechCrunch. Its future is probably closer to Chris Pirillo's LockerGnome or even O'Reilly (the OG of media 2.0 customer relations plays)
AOL themselves, of course, are trying to do it all. If they eventually decide they're customer relations people I guess Calacanis will get bored and leave.
There's a huge philosophical and mental gulf between the Ning conception of apps and the traditional programmer sense. We think there should be one perfect app, with lots of users. Flickr, for example. If we want a new feature, we whine at Flickr to add it. Ning isn't about software perfection and collective brilliance, it's about individual empowerment. If you want a photo site, you go to someone's photo site and hit the "ah gotta git me wunna thayem!" button. Boom, you have a photo site. If you want a new feature, you hit "edit my app" and add it. It's so very American, and is so against the grain of programmers who are taught that duplication is bad and must be avoided.
Today I got the very first version of SpittingCobra [A simple web-based Python code-generator] working. And I had a vision. That thousands might install little code generating scripts on their computers and sites. All minor variants, customized for their own particular languages and situations and purposes. That cranking the handle of these thousands of little code generators will spit out thousands more scripts. That the cell learns to reproduce. That, just as the blogosphere is a rich, dense, weave of discussion and opinion and knowledge. So we'll create a rich, dense weave of software customization and authoring. That "programming" will be swamped by spitting scripts. That "design" will be an argument, flowing across weblogs and wikis. That we'll bang the rocks together harder. And split the atoms into smallers pieces.
MySpace’s challenge is to do for branding what Google did for ads – to create a hyperefficient form of interaction.
I'm not so sure the metaphor of Platform War is really the right way to see it. On one hand the "war" does highlight the differences in communications networks (money vs. social networks). But on the other hand obscures the interdependencies of the two.
Truth is, although we collectively see the train wreck coming, we don't collectively witness the failure as a single unequivocal event.
I bet there's a law here, or a life lesson. Either you're going to be a platform vendor or not. If you choose to push a platform, don't go half way. Platforms that are picky usually don't gain traction. If you got a platform you must be open to all comers, enthusiastically, without reservation.
Yesterday we announced a strategic partnership with the Dojo Foundation: OpenLaszlo will not only be licensing the Dojo Toolkit for use within our next major release, we will also make substantial code contributions back to Dojo for use by the entire Ajax/DHTML community.
The goal of all political activism is to activation of the political muscle of the movement. The outward facing goals are always secondary. To put it in high tech terms - the highly cohesive and activated political base is like a platform; it has no goal beyond creating a rich option space for actions and a sense of urgency to take action to execute those options.
When you create a platform you select some options and highlight them to make it easier for developers to visualize what is possible. That increases their awareness of the rich option space and it acts as an accelerant on their taking action. When you create a political movement you select issues to focus on for just those reasons; but the you have different names for the actors. Activists and voters substitute for developers and users. In both cases a modicum of fear to drive people to action can be useful; with luck you can get your competing platform/movement to do things that frighten users/voters developer/voters. Microsoft did that for open source. The current immigration crack down talk has done that for the immigrate movement.
I think the really interesting thing is that for a long time paid, exchange economies have driven out gifting ones. And suddenly, on the internet, that's being reversed.
Suddenly, gift-economies are able to compete with, and out-perform, exchange economies. My guess is that this is something to do with scale : there comes a time when you cross a threshold of number of people, and the cheaper, asynchronous co-ordination of gifting is more effective than the more expensive synchronous co-ordination of payment.
Obviously, as Benkler says, the wider distribution of productive capital is a necessary precondition.
I think I have a three-part answer to the "how to make money" question.
1) In the short term, you sell services around the peer-produced information products. That can be anything from customized modification of free-code, renting server-space, through to some higher-level reviewing, indexing, derivitive services.
The problem is, these become commoditised really quickly. That's why everyone from SourceForge to MySpace to Google is offering you gallons of free hosting for your content in return for an infinitessimal advertising revenue.
I recently got a bit annoyed when I discovered that I couldn't create any more "sets" on my free Flickr account. But I see the point. Flickr give away commodity hosting, but require me to pay for access to a higher value, highly abstract categorisation resource. Ironically I can have free disk-space but not free name-space.
I don't think this will last. Competition will commodify "sets" just as it commodified disk sectors. But I think it's an experiment that shows Flickr are looking in the right direction.
2) To avoid getting commoditised, you have to look more closely into two strategies : what Umair Haque is calling "edge competencies", and what OReilly is calling "data inside". How do you become a non-commodity, essential hub / partner in an ecosystem of peer-production, in such a way that people have to pay you?
EBay, Amazon and Google can all take a cut of transactions you do through them, because the peer-production is inalienable from their service. The challenge is how to get yourself into this position.
3) Ultimately though, we're moving towards full Netocracy, where links (or live attentional connections) start to be valued and "imploitable" in themselves. I'll give away content because the connection with the audience is more valuable to me than any money I can make. At first we'll asssume that this is simply a kind of investment, because, ultimately, downstream we will be cashing out those links into real money. But money itself is is something we might pursue without worrying about how we actually spend it - sure, ultimately it will buy us food, but we may hold on to it and invest it for decades before we end up eating it.
In the same way, we may hold on to, and invest in, and trade links for decades before we finally expect them to be "exploited" (converted back into money).
So as our recognition of netocracy grows, we'll worry less about the ultimate payment and more about how our peer-production is helping with our link portfolio.
Aside : I don't think Winer really "gets" wiki. If you want to take him on, that's the front to do it.
How long will it be before there's a wiki that supports the MetaWeblog API? ...
Anyway, send me a pointer to such a wiki, and I'll try to get the OPML Editor working with it. If there are problems, I'll document them, and when they're fixed, I'll try again.
Phil why are all your analogies about wars and fighting? I’m actually a creative person, always have been. Does someone who writes a book try to defeat anyone? I don’t think so. I think they want to express something. I want new tools to exist for people with knowledge to be able to share it with others and to build on other people’s knowledge.
If I interpret Phil's this line correctly in the context of the rest of his comment ... he's placing Winer on the side of pragmatic tool builders.
Which is odd given Winer's history of extremely idealistic format building.