P2P -- The Afterlife
Wednesday, October 11, 2000 by Dave Winer.
Sometimes I forget to define my terms.
Yesterday I wrote about "Drinking the Kool-Aid," and some people, esp ones who are too young to remember Jonestown or General Magic have no idea what I'm talking about.
Kool-Aid is an inexpensive non-carbonated soft drink that comes in powder form, mixed with water and sugar. It's a sweet colorful drink favored by children. According to legend, members of The People's Temple killed themselves by drinking Kool-Aid mixed with cyanide.
To "Drink the Kool-Aid" is to adopt a religion with suicidal zeal. The first time I heard this expression in the software industry was from people I knew at General Magic. It goes like this: I Drank the Kool-Aid.
Randy Battat, former Apple and Motorola exec, and now the CEO of a Boston-based startup, reminds me that I forgot to mention Push in the list of hype balloons of the past.
It's true! I went through a similar loop on Push in 1997. I wrote an enthusiastic piece, and immediately got pushback from my readers. They didn't expect me to drink this flavor of Kool-Aid. "That's not you Dave," some said. They were right. I flipped, just like I did yesterday. It happens.
Tomorrow Intel is hosting the P2P working group meeting. Not much of substance on the agenda (why am I not surprised?) except there is a talk from an IBM guy about UDDI, which is a SOAP-related technology.
Of course SOAP is what P2P is really about. If the hype were about SOAP, something good could happen. Users would get features they actually want. Imagine an object-oriented Internet. No one could sniff because it would deliver real results.
Pushback came from a (nameless) rich and thoughtful supporter of Silicon Valley VCs who has so far not said anything about P2P. They like it because for once there's a hype balloon with a tiny little bit of substance. The VCs are excited. They're investing. But are they investing in things that are even remotely interesting? No. Or not so far, or not that I've heard. Whatever.
Tomorrow I will see Ray Ozzie's product, the one that so many are so excited about. Ray is a man of substance. If it's actually P2P I'll eat my hat. BTW, I like to eat my hat. ;->
PS: Salon has an excerpt from Alan Deutschman's new Steve Jobs book. I'm in both the book and the excerpt. A long time ago I ran an account of an internal Apple meeting, written by an Apple employee. Now we're getting a new Mac OS X product together, one that takes advantage of its server-side prowess and delivers Mac-like ease of use to people who log on via the Web. It will allow Apple's cube to leapfrog the Cobalt one. I can't wait to demo it to Steve!
PPS: I got an email from Eddie Kessler, CTO at Napster, asking what hooks I would like to see in their client. I wrote back with two. If they were to implement them, Intel would get their wish, there *are* ways to use the compute power of the local machine to increase the utility of the network. Services that wouldn't scale if they ran in the cloud. I want to give Kessler a chance to respond before publishing the ideas.
PPPS: People really read the PS's. I got a lot of email about the integrity-on-the-Web bit yesterday. I'm going to start a mail list and website for discussion. The Web offers the opportunity for more integrity than print. Lots to say about this. Stay tuned.