Sunday, February 22, 2009

Why Web 2.0 Should be Web 2.x

The global economic crisis focuses IT buyers' minds on efficiency and immediate financial benefits. Real software in areas such as business intelligence (BI) and complex-event processing (CEP) is in vogue. Abstract thinking is not.

Thus comes what might be the final nail in Web 2.0's coffin. When's the last time you heard someone use the term non-ironically, with a straight face? How often is it said now without being archly surrounded by "air quotes" ?

I've always thought that the main problem with the term was its glibness. Well, duh. But listen for a sec...

There are many important concepts within Web 2.0 thinking. The problem is that the real term should have been Web 2.x, to describe steady, ongoing improvements to the Web.

Instead, the Web 2.0 name just served as the latest, ugh, revolution from Silicon Valley that you either "get" or don't, featuring fatuous "entrepreneurs" who want that quick jakcpot, reported on breathlessly by fatuous "journalists" who want that same jackpot.

But there was tremendous value in the original Web 2.0 conception. Go back to Tim O'Reilly's original Web 2.0 article in 2005:

Sure, it has a "meme map," ascribes importance to nonsensical notions such as The Long Tail--and may in retrospect have been written solely to serve as the launching pad for a pretentious conference and a new generation of social networking consultants.

But it is a very long, serious article written in an earnest and sweeping way that, if nothing else, provides a nice tutorial of the software industry up to that point in time.

And it outlined principles of real importance, as you can see when they are presented unadorned:

1. The Web is a Platform

2. Harness Collective Intelligence

3. Data is the Next Intel Inside (ok, this one is confusing, but it hits on the importance of who owns the data, something that puts companies such as Google and Facebook in the news almost daily)

4. It's the End of the Software Release Cycle (thereby leading to why it should be called Web 2.x, btw!)

5. Lightweight Programming is in Ascendance

6. Software Should be Written for Many Devices

7. Focus on Rich User Experiences

As Tim O'Reilly himself said in the original outline:

"The next time a company claims that it's 'Web 2.0,' test their features against the list above. The more points they score, the more they are worthy of the name. Remember, though, that excellence in one area may be more telling than some small steps in all seven."

Well, I have to disagree with his final point. It is the collection of small steps that leads to profound, long-lasting change. But yes, Yet check features against the list by all means! This is how you will achieve your ongoing, Web 2.x breakthroughs!

Today there are legions of young people throughout the world (and some older ones of the "right age") happily texting, tweeting, gathering, posting, slinging pix and video all over the place, joyfully oblivious as to whether that are part of Web 2.0, smart crowds, social networking, or any other such ephemera that passes for Silicon Valley wisdom and philosophy.

They "get it" in a way that has no pretension. They don't talk about this stuff, they just do it. Would that everyone would do the same. Treat Web 2.0 as an ongoing series of ever less-buggy releases--a Web 2.x approach--and we will no longer endure stories about the "death of Web 2.0" or "waiting for Web 3.0."

Viva Web 2.x !!

Add Three Little Letters--CEP--to Your SOA

I've developed a minor obsession with complex-event management. CEP software is getting to where it can recognize patterns on the fly that allow enterprise IT to become much more efficient.

It's not just there to keep small problems from becoming big problems--although I don't wish to understate that aspect--and it's not just there to upsell and cross-sell, but to drive real-time IT resource adjustment, something that is enhanced by all the virtualization going on. Real-time flex as it were.

The new issue of NOW has a little sidebar about CEP for people who may not be familiar with it. You can see this article online.

If you're further down this road and have already grokked CEP, look to the right of this page and start reading the CEP blogs I've cited!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I Can See SOA Clearly Now

I had a nice, clear morning commute today. Cleared my mind a bit. I've been thinking a lot about Twitter and some of the other social networking phenomena. My problem with the term "social networking" is that it's a redundancy. As such, it doesn't say anything.

We had social networking back in the day of party lines anyway. Everyone knew everyone's business within nanoseconds, and semi-smart crowds would form at the first hint of something going on.

Hey, if I reference party lines--particularly the one I had for my phone service when I lived out in the country shortly after graduating college--do I sound old? Do I sound a little Hee Haw-ish?

And no, a party line is not something like "Never raise taxes" or "For the children."

All that aside, I want to start discussions with people about how and whether all this interloping social-networking-as-a-service (SNaaS) stuff is something that enterprise IT will have to grapple with. Are we talking about social-networking-oriented architecture (SNOA)?

Am I seeing this clearly? Or should I put these thoughts where the sun don't shine?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It Was a Dark and Stormy Morning... I set off on my commute to begin the short week following Presidents' Day. Ack, although I enjoy the three-day week-end, I'll never get used to the euphemstic re-naming of this holiday.

It's a difficult semantic problem. With Lincon born on Jan. 12 and Washington on Jan. 22, it was too awkward to have two holidays so close together. So the intention was to honor them both. But the combined holiday also implies we should honor Franklin Pierce or Warren Harding, maybe Tippecanoe and Tyler, too.

Oh well, the foreboding cloud I saw on my way over the Dumbarton Bridge may be an omen for the first day of the rest of our economy's life...or not, I hope. Or maybe it's a sign that I should be writing more about Cloud Computing.

Monday, February 16, 2009

New NOW Magazine is Here

We've produced a new print issue of NOW Magazine.

It won't be online right away, as we prefer to distribute to our readers in about 60 countries, let them get a long look at it, and give us feedback before we start putting it online.

We cleverly print extra copies for anyone who would like one. Shoot me an email to get the current issue, then subscribe so you get a free copy each time it comes out.

The new issue was many months in the making. We were set to go with a visionary cover piece last fall, but the severity of the economic troubles that began then made us re-consider.

So we developed a lot of new material, and published it with a cover story telling you how to continue to get IT budget in tough economic times.

I hope everyone enjoys it, and I certainly hope not everyone agrees with everything in it!

Our next NOW issue will be in Chinese, and should blossom with the cherry trees in the spring.


Birdbrain that I am, I've been thinking a lot about Twitter over the long week-end. Wrote a few short pieces that made it to a new writer's site called "Ulitzer" (as in Pulitzer, pronunciation be damned, get it?)

You can google "soa twitter" or "twitter story 140" to find my pieces.

Or you can visit my author site.

I've played around with Twitter as a new writing form. The geeks who invented Twitter could think of nothing less banal to ask than, "what are you doing?" Ignore that sad question and free your mind to fill 140 characters in any way you know how. The 1.2 million twitterers, about one quarter of them serious, are clearly enjoying the freedom of this new form.

Twitter is one of those disruptive things that will eventually grab the attention of corporate IT departments, once C-level management figures out how much time people are spending with it.

Along with Facebook, Friendster, YouTube, IM'ing, Twitter looks to me less like so-called social networking and more like something truly revolutionary, reminding me of the days when the personal computer snuck its way into offices, much to the dismay of MIS (as it was called then), before conquering the world.

And Twitter seems to have re-invented the notion of The New Economy. Only this time around, the company needs no revenue at all, yet keeps getting fed by evil VC types who must think that some day, somehow, they can steal it and "monetize" it for their partners in slime. We'll see.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Is Twitter Really the Dumbest Thing Ever?

There's a funny article in Web 2.0 Journal by an SEO consultant from Italy named Salvatore Genovese, who thinks that Twitter is the dumbest thing he's ever seen. The column appears next to a short piece I wrote about my twittecdotes.

Salvatore thinks that Twitter is full of "spammers and crazy people." Yeah, and your point is?....

The world is full of spammers and crazy people, and Twitter is nothing more than a million-plus-strong flock of humanity.

Personally, I've found Twitter to be a handy way to blast out quick messages to friends. It's led me to some new acquaintences who I think are less crazy than me.

Most important, it keeps me off the streets and busy thinking about the 140-character writing metier.

I don't know Salvatore, but I'll extend him the courtesy of assuming he is a decent guy who knows a lot about SEO and other stuff. But surely he's led a sheltered life.

If Twitter is the dumbest thing Salvatore Genovese has ever seen, that means he has never seen:

* Microsoft Bob

* The Astronaut Farmer

* Digger Phelps talking about basketball

* Lee Corso talking about college football

* Hulk Hogan's daughter talking about anything

* The Apple Newton

* Microsoft Bookshelf (Redmond's original CD-ROM product)

* Me, with my high-school friends from Illinois

* Any GMC commercial

* The Army Show

Dumb And Dumber

This list could go on past the horizon. Salvatore probably hasn't seen many of the things this short compilation...but really, he should at least rent The Astronaut Farmer, so he can move Twitter to second place on his list.

For me, I kinda like Twitter. It doesn't seem dumb at all to me. But then, I don't seem dumb to me either.

Friday, February 13, 2009

About All the Damage I Can Do For Now

I've been working on the elements in this blog, and also on becoming a moderately proficient twitterer, while simultaneously playing around with a new author site at

Trying to get all the wood flying in the same direction, if not behind one arrow. There are dozens and dozens of good articles from the print version of NOW Magazine that I need to convert over to the blog.

We built a nice, pretty, custom site for all the NOW stuff, but now the ulitzer thingie (run by a former business partner of mine) provides the heavy lifting for content management and story googling. So I'll move a bunch of stuff there and into this blog as well so all y'all can enjoy it.

First, it being a very rainy start to a three-day week-end, I'll fight traffic home, turn on the TV, and see if the world still has an economy.

I can't text while driving, but I can still take a picture

Then will watch the Cal-Stanford men's basketball game tomorrow (look at my bio to see which team I care about), this being a rivalry which no one outside of the Bay Area cares about, and in which punches are seldom thrown among fans, as we all work together at the same companies.