Thursday, July 31, 2003

O Reilly again !

Could'nt get my fill of O'Reilly today. Makes excellent reading !

On where the Net is heading

The new medium will eventually drive the development of new intermediaries who help people to find the content they want. (Think google and the web.)

I'd say that you want to watch the folks who are figuring out that applications are no longer local to a single machine. Whether it's p2p or web services or distributed computation, we're moving to a world captured by Dave Stutz's great phrase, "software above the level of a single device."

individual hackers -- the folks who are comfortable enough with computers to make them do what they want, and who aren't dependent on vendor-supplied solutions -- show us future directions. Eventually entrepreneurs take what the hackers have done and make it more accessible for ordinary users. And then someone figures out how to turn it into a platform on which the cycle can repeat at a higher level.

but the ultimate outcome is what I call "building the internet operating system." The question is what kind of operating system it will be -- a "one ring to rule them all" OS like Windows, or a "small pieces loosely joined" OS like Linux and the existing suite of internet and web technologies.

Microsoft has many advantages, but far from a lock on the future. The days of their operating system monopoly are over. They've been saying this, and working furiously to enter new markets

I find Macromedia Central fascinating, because I do think that we're deconstructing the browser these days. Central is one of several attempts to take the web apart and put it together in new ways.( O Reilly is now on the board of Macromedia Directors- Ramki)

We're entering a new world in which data may be more important than software. The frameworks that enable the manipulation and distribution of that data are yet to be defined. Flash does enable great cross-platform interfaces using a small client footprint (orders of magnitude smaller than Java), so if we can just open up the right kind of innovation and sharing on top of that platform, a lot of great stuff can happen.

"small pieces loosely joined." This is the current architecture of the internet. Tools like Flash and Central are really useful, but they don't currently support that architecture. However, I believe there is an opportunity for them to play better on the Internet, and by doing so, to become even more successful than they already are.

Air Guitar, by Dave Hickey. The subtitle says a lot about the book: "Essays on Art and Democracy." The essay I've been pointing to a lot is called "The Birth of the Big Beautiful Art Market." It describes the way Harley Earl of GM turned the marketing of automobiles "from being about what they do to what they mean" (or some such -- I don't have the book with me to check the quote.) His point was that as industries become commoditized, as is now happening in the computer market, intangibles play a greater role in product differentiation. Apple has been a pioneer in marketing computers for what they mean rather than what they do. Everything from the 1984 ad to "Think Different" speaks to the self image of the user who chooses an Apple product.

Moneyball, by Michael Lewis. I'm not a big baseball fan, but this book is a revelation. Anyone in business should read it. It describes the superior results that come when you throw away what you think you know, the accepted wisdom of an industry, and rebuild your efforts around a deeper understanding of what matters in your success. A wonderful insight into what happens when statistics become more than just numbers, but, to use the wonderful phrasing of pioneering baseball statistician Bill James, "acquire the power of language."

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas Kuhn
The Innovator's Dilemma, by Clayton Christenson
Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, by Lawrence Lessig
Small Pieces Loosely Joined, by David Weinberger


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