Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ray Ozzie: Wiring the Web

This article caught my imagination today, but first, some background. For those who don't know, Ray Ozzie is Microsoft's Chief Software Architect, a role he took over (inherited?) from Bill Gates, so he kinda knows his stuff. His appointment was heralded in many quarters as a major shift within MS, away from the bad old 90's 'keep it close to your chest' reputation that they undoubtably deserved, toward an open, collaborative, inclusive stance. This may have been part of a damn clever and insidious marketing plan, which saw MS embracing the kind of attitudes that are beginning to be espoused by their software products. Lets face it, who is going to believe that applications advertised as enabling collaboration are best designed, sold and supported by a company that has more secrets than the CIA? On the other hand, Evolutionists would have it that development is best acheived through sharing - from passing-down particularly strong DNA lines to splitting the spoils of early mans hunting expeditions thus enabling other members of the family/tribe to protect and nurture.

I'm from the camp that firmly believes in spreading it about unless it's my Pint (get your own, scrounger) and so I was pleased to see that one of the concepts that visited Ray in his bath recently was immediately passed to a Concept Development Team (wouldn't we all love to have THAT kind of resource for every bright idea we've had!) and has started to emerge under the banner of 'Live Clipboard', a standard for the interchange of content (at its most simplistic). Whilst not quite an epiphany as there are precedents such as Yahoo Pipes, it does bode well for the future of sharing and Mashups, not least of all because of the weight of Microsoft. It is progressive however, in that MS are releasing their work under a Creative Commons license, which means it is open to development and enhancement in the same way as Linux has been, based primarily upon a framework of rules and an overwhelming desire to see developments achieve high up-take.

The down-side of this attitude is also blatantly obvious on exactly the same page, in the form of nearly 900 'Trackbacks'. These are provided as a directory or index of blogs, articles and pieces discussing or commenting upon the original article. In the case of Rays latest brain-child, most of them selling Viagra, pushing gambling sites and tempting you with images of many kinds of mammal in various states of undress.

Oh, its wonderful to be open, but the earliest and most prolific adoptors are BOUND to be commercially driven and less targeted than your average American Ally Support squadron.

No comments: