Web Services
The Web Services Category of Ross Mayfield's Weblog

Subscribe to "Web Services" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


Tuesday, August 19, 2003

My blog is now at ross.typepad.com

My RSS feed is http://ross.typepad.com/blog/index.rdf

Please update your bookmarks and subscriptions.

3:37:12 PM    comment []

Friday, July 11, 2003

A .Net Answer to Java.net


"Microsoft officially rolled out version 1.0 of its Workspaces collaborative development environment this week. Workspaces is a lot like the open-source SourceForge environment, providing developers with a place to create, host and manage software-development projects for free."

Has blogs.  As all development communities will.  Must be an answer to Java.net.

1:35:04 PM    comment []

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Wikis & Weblogs in the Java.net Developer Community

Last week Sun launched Java.net, the first large scale developer community to incorporate wikis and weblogs (disclosure: Socialtext consulted on its design).  Serving up to 3 million users, it will expose new users to these powerful communication and collaboration tools.  But it is no accident that the largest business case of weblog use is a developer community, developers have been using these tools since they were invented.

The community also leverages editorial content from O'Reilly and CollabNet developer tools.  Any developer, particularly open source projects, should consider taking advantage of the free resources provided.  Smaller companies should consider hosting their own developer communities there as well.

Aside from the community-wide weblogs (Daniel SteinbergJames "the Java guy" Gosling) and a wiki, each wiki and weblogs are tools within sub-community projects.  You can even view weblogs by community.  One evangelist blogged JavaOne using his phone cam.  This community is bringing some great new voices into the fold (all RSS enabled), like Richard Gabriel who lays out the vision of Java.net:

...We think of creativity as an individual talent, but communities can be creative, too. And the sorts of things a community can build are considerably larger than those an individual can. There are many examples. Cathedrals in the Middle Ages were built by a long-lived community of builders, artisans, carpenters, sculptors, stone cutters, woodcutters, ceramics makers, glass makers, painters, and ordinary people working as laborers, based on a model created by an architect perhaps decades earlier, but inspired by a common vision of what that cathedral will be.

Programming languages have been defined by widely dispersed communities using email and similar tools. Linux -- itself a cathedral-like project -- has spawned tens of thousands of other projects, some adding well-known pieces to Linux and others stretching the imagination or bringing to Linux functionality once found only elsewhere. The software patterns community was self-created without any support whatsoever from funding agencies or corporations; similar stories are true of the Agile and eXtreme Programming communities. These are all highly influential and widespread communities now.

The vision of java.net is to build a self-creating and self-governed web place where communities can join together -- either loosely through federation or tightly by living on java.net -- to build something like a diverse city of diverse communities, individuals, and companies who are engaged in using the Java language and technology in both routine and innovative ways. The purpose is to bring people together to increase the density of triggers so that new markets and resources are created...

Now its only a week old, there are more projects than you can count, and some really active communities like Java Desktop and Java Games.  The community isn't all Sun and Java, other communities are either hosted, federated or linked.  By design, communities can easily cross-polinate to spark new projects.

Other open developer communities leverage wikis, like OSAF's Chandler project, Technorati and the Social Software Alliance.  Its a natural fit because the tools work for more than talk, but getting things done.  What's different about Java.net is the corporate initiative, scale of participation and breadth tools made openly available.  Sun, to its credit, provided this in an open ethic to create new opportunties for new people and stands to gain the just reward of loyalty in return. 

Its a rather simple equation, give people tools to meet people, talk and code and great things happen.


9:29:24 AM    comment []

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Communication and Collaboration Convergence

Uh oh, there's that word again.  Convergence.  The solution to all our problems.

Siemens has released OpenScape, which integrates phone, voice mail, e-mail, text messaging, calendaring, instant messaging, and conferencing services. Its all centered on IM to synchronize use of different modes of communication, with a SIP server (Session Initiation Protocol) for telephony integration.  OpenScape 1.0, however, requires Microsoft's forthcoming Windows Server 2003 and Greenwich collaboration server. Its the latest in a long line of communication and collaboration solutions to leverage Outlook as a platform.  And its estimated to cost as much as $400 per seat.

This may just be unified messaging redux, but Mike from Techdirt is right that it has potential as a productivity tool if its simple enough for people to use.  People use many modes of communication.  Optimize only a one or two and you may make communication in its entirety even more sub-optimal. 

With the falling cost of more traditional communcations (original videoconference sessions were $100k a pop), putting users in the driver seat is not a bad thing.  Problem is this approach of deep integration creates greater costs and risks.

Corporate IM is a good center for user management of complexity, but who knows if they have gotten this right.  If as advertised, its designed to fit within workflow, it may be on the wrong track.  Communication is not a process, its an informal practice whose patterns cannot be pre-defined.

1:54:45 PM    comment []

Monday, June 16, 2003

I Sense a Cage Match

The People's Mesh vs. The Core Object

But with the right leadership, the "vs." could turn into an "and."

7:14:55 PM    comment []

Monday, May 26, 2003

Paying for Software

Dave expands upon his rationale for paying for software: "If you pay nothing for software, you probably won't die from it, but you may lose data, you're virtually certain to waste time, and at some point, money."

I had to learn to pay for software.  Not the hard way, mind you.  Growing up in Palo Alto distorted my propensity to pay.  My first exposure to software was when user groups were rampant.  3 1/2 floppies were circulated as the norm at user group meetings.  Social networks were the source of service.  The hardware was damn expensive and it seemed natural that software sharing was the exercise. 

Some of my elementary school friends had parents who were Apple developers.  They had the best stuff.  We hacked together games in BASIC on Apple IIs, traded in the computer lab at middle school and the worst punishment concievable was a flying eraser from the teacher (Mr. Spinoli's favorite pastime was flinging blackboard erasers at students in good fun and occasional accident).

I still hesitate to purchase packaged software and instead often simply go without.  Maybe its all the times I purchased software only to become rapidly obsolete by new generations of hardware that purposely obfuscated backward compatibility.  Or when I bought tools that ended up not being suitable for the job.  Where I really hesitate is upgrading my operating system; feels like donating bottles of Thunderbird to a wino instead of buying them a happy meal.

But all that changed when I could buy software online.  Not because it plays into impulse purchase proclivity.  The ability to trial software or have a lite version with an easy upgrade path reduced my risk and led me to greater purchases.

Now I have turned on the spigot.  Not because I work in the software industry, like paying for the right for customer support or have some enlightened consumer guilt.  Because I can buy software as service.  There is a confidence instilled from software that changes over time.  Bugs get addressed, demands are met and risk is reduced.  I don't care where my data lives, so long as it works for me.  Better yet, when the software comes with information services it becomes alive

I buy software when I know it will get better, rather than worse, over time.  Appreciate appreciation.  But that's just one consumer's take.

8:00:54 AM    comment []

Monday, May 19, 2003

The Matter of IT

As the technology industry emerges from the bottom, it criticism has been lowered to the nature of being.  Information Technology has always been a source of competitive advantage.  At the bottom of the business cycle, advantage is basic survival, risk taken only on low hanging fruit.  But now, as the leaky pipes have stopped dripping, some wish to relegate the job of IT to that of a plumber.

Friday's article in the NY Times by Steve Lohr asks the question, "Has Technology Lost its Special Status?"  Technology as an industry is 10 percent of the economy and 60 percent of business spending.  According to John Gantz of IDC, technology spending has increased 2-3 times the rate of economic growth since the 1960s.  The question is if the industry will return to its historical growth rates, the driver of valuation multiples.  Lohr reports:

That assumption about technology's special role is questioned in a provocative article this month in The Harvard Business Review, titled "IT Doesn't Matter." The article asserts that information technology, or I.T. for short, is inevitably headed in the same direction as the railroads, the telegraph, electricity and the internal combustion engine — becoming, in economic terms, just ordinary factors of production, or "commodity inputs."

"From a strategic standpoint, they became invisible; they no longer mattered," Nicholas G. Carr, editor at large of The Harvard Business Review, wrote in the article. "That is exactly what is happening to information technology today."

John Hagel and John Seely Brown believe this is an important article because it very effectively captures the backlash sweeping through executive suites against IT spending...But Carr’s article is also dangerous because it endorses the growing view that IT offers only limited potential for strategic differentiation....and are preparing a rebuttal in the July issue of HBR:

  • Extracting business value from IT requires innovations in business practices. In many respects, we believe Carr attacks a red herring – few people would argue that IT alone provides any significant business value or strategic advantage.
  • The economic impact from IT comes from incremental innovations, rather than "big bang" initiatives. A process of rapid incrementalism enhances learning potential and creates opportunities for further innovations.
  • The strategic impact of IT investment comes from the cumulative effect of sustained initiatives to innovate business practices in the near-term. The strategic differentiation emerges over time, based less on any one specific innovation in business practice and much more on the capability to continuously innovate around the evolving capabilities of IT.

Some tech executives have countered in the NY Times article:

"I.T. is the vehicle by which you turn ideas and content into intellectual property products," Mr. Craig Barrett (of Intel) said. "As a nation and as a company, you either upgrade your I.T. infrastructure or you won't be competitive."

Samuel J. Palmisano, chief executive of I.B.M., made the case for his industry's growing at twice the rate of the economy when he spoke to analysts on Wednesday. "The industry is fundamentally a growth industry because it underpins productivity," he said.

Kevin Werbach speaks of new models in the Post-PC era in his Supernova report:

...The point of the article is not that tech is dying, or that innovation is drying up. It's that enterprise technology is moving into a new phase. Bigger, faster, and more feature-laden are no longer selling points in the same way. Smarter, simpler, more efficient, and more flexible are the new criteria. It's much harder to make powerful system simple than to make them complex....

Zack Lynch points how IT drives growth in other sectors:

For instance, although not a punctuated leap in competitive advantage, social software has the potential to accrue significant value for companies that leverage its potential to accelerate innovation. In some industries, two product cycles can be the difference between corporate life and death.

For example, decreasing innovation cycle times in the pharmaceutical industry by 10% could slash years off product research, development and approval processes.  When translated into revenue and market capitalization impacts, intelligent adoption of social software could significantly disrupt the balance of power in this multi-billion dollar industry.  Who says IT competitive advantage is dead?

What is unique about IT compared to other revolutions is how it extends the capabilities of people and groups.  IT fuels competitive advantage by enhancing productivity.  Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT has demonstrated that productivity gains occur not through IT in and of itself, but when it is introduced with new business practice and process.

This is actually a contrarian point for many.  Some private equity investors shy away from technologies that require change of behavior, for example, because it adds risk that users will resist change.  But in fact, that's the real promise of IT, to extend our capabilities in new ways.  Changing behavior is good in a changing world.

Brynjofsson's studies have been in process-intensive areas of organization.  Areas where economies of scale can be easily realized.  When business process is defined, it is almost immeadiately outdated because environmental conditions change presenting new sets of information. This underscores the need for business practice that realizes economies of scope (agility), but also the limits of process itself.

What remains is knowledge work.  Most jobs in the service sector spend the majority of their time undertaking unstructured tasks in social context.   And this time is where innovation occurs (Palmisano points to IP creation, but that's just one set of montetizable outcomes). 

IT will continue to drive competitive advantage for business because an incremental enhancement of how groups work still yields exponental benefits.

11:38:47 PM    comment []

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2003 Ross Mayfield.
Last update: 8/19/2003; 4:16:11 PM.
This theme is based on the SoundWaves (blue) Manila theme.
August 2003
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Jul   Sep