Why knowingly breaking standards may be the way forward.
I’m a big fan of TechMeme, a web aggregation service that provides, at a glance, a few of what’s being discussed in the technology-focused part of the blogosphere. It has allowed me to unsubscribe from a large number of RSS feeds that were providing me with redundant information and I’ve long hoped for a version of TechMeme that would provide me with a customized view that providing a similar user interface for my own personal feeds. Recently, though, TechMeme has gotten me thinking about the tech blogosphere conversations as a whole and their longer term relevance. To the small “web 2.0” community, TechMeme serves as a bit of a paper of record; The subhead even claims that it represents the “Tech Web, page A1”, claiming to bring us the important stories. But how do those stories fare over time? Is today’s hot topic a step in understanding a longer term trend or is it just a temporary distraction that will be forgotten a month/3 months/6 months/a year from now. Fortunately, Gabe Rivera, the founder of TechMeme must have anticipated such a question and provided a way to look at TechMeme as it was a particular point in its short history.…Read More
There has been much discussion lately, most of it negativeÂ (you can read more comments on Technorati), about the comeback of boo.com and once again, I find myself on the opposite side of the shared wisdom. Before I go into reasons as to why I think a comeback by Boo.com (a boo.comeback?) makes sense, let me first go into my unique qualifications to make such an assessment: I happen to have worked at Boo.com in the past and I was the insider who exposed some of the challenges the company had faced. I spent a fair amount of my time, in 2000 and 2001, talking at conferences about the lessons learned from this failure and I think that some of those are now fixed. Looking Back In the ensuing 6 years, I’ve been going over and over what went wrong and discovered more lessons along the way: the market conditions were wrong, we were young and arrogant, and, for the most part, we didn’t really understand the magnitude of what we were trying to accomplish: to remind people, our goal was to launch a website in 16 countries (15 EU countries + the US) on day one, localizing our site for…Read More
Looking at the efforts Dave Winer is undertaking in terms of getting OPML to become yet another standard, I’ve been thinking about how formats get adopted. The key insight I came up with is that standards are actually a form of social contract and increasingly, data formats is following the same path. Looking at the history In order to look forward, it always pays to look back. The dominant standards for the web today are undeniably HTML (or its variances like XHTML) and HTTP. More recently, XML has emerged and, increasingly, RSS is becoming the dominant type of XML for sharing a variety of data. How did each of those standards become a standard. It is obvious now (hindsight is always 20/20) that standards bodies have relatively little bearing when it comes to influencing the succes of a format. Take, for example, SGML, which was the dominant standardized format for document formatting. It was quickly superceded by HTML which, at the time, was not considered a standard. The same is true of RSS and other standards for syndication. Formats like ICE, CDF, and NewsML were touted as the future when they were first introduced. However, they’ve recently been superceded by…Read More
This morning’s big news is that Macromedia is being acquired by Adobe. Reading through the announcement, it is hard to say whether this will come to pass or not, as there are many monopoly issues surrounding this deal. Side by Side The biggest impact will probably be felt on the low end of the creative space. Here’s a rundown of the upcoming battles to come as a result of this acquisition (this is based on the product sheets on the Macromedia and the Adobe sites) and my predictions on who will win each: Vector Graphics: Freehand vs. Illustrator While Freehand got a nice following, I believe this one will end up with Illustrator winning, largely due to its installed base. Expect the Flash integration to come into future versions of Illustrator and the Freehand platform to be de-emphasized Digital Imaging: Photoshop vs. Fireworks Once again, advantage Adobe, largely due to the larger feature set and the widespread development community that has brought extensions to it. However, expect the optimize for web section of the program to improve as these will be worked on by the old Fireworks team. Web Authoring: Dreamweaver vs. GoLive Advantage Macromedia. While GoLive is a nice…Read More
Like many other geeks, I’ve gotten a Gmail account but unlike most people, it took me less than 48 hours to render unoperational (and this time, it’s not a joke). First of all, let me say that while it is an interesting package, it is not without flaws. For starters, the lack of indicator when the Spam folder and/or trash have stuff in them is a bit disturbing. Sure, it’s not that much of an issue when you have a gigabyte of space but, for those of us who are particularly clean when it comes to online operations (I generally try to keep my virtual trash relatively empty), it’s a bother. On the spam blocking end, Gmail does an OK job but is nowhere near as good as simply using Squirrelmail with SpamAssassin, or using the spamcop black-list. On the good side of this is the fact that, in the course of a day of use (about 600 messages, most of them spam), Gmail had no false positives in terms of tagging things as spam. On the bad side, it failed to tag hundreds of messages as spam. I’m assuming that Gmail has a learning curve, like other email packages,…Read More