Soundbites for Y2K and beyond
Thursday, December 21, 2000 by Dave Winer.
As Y2K winds down and Y2K++ looms large, let's do some looking back and forward.
The Year 2000 was a tough one in the Internet software business. It was the year the bubble burst, and lots of pre-bubble services went offline this year, and more are sure to pop in 2001.
Hanging out with a group of software entrepreneurs a few days ago, someone said "None of us are making money." It's true. But we're all thinking about it now, even companies with hoards of cash raised before the crash. Maybe this will unlock creativity, and people will look for ways to make their software and systems work together. Every time we've gotten to this place (I think I've been around this loop before) that's what would have made the difference. Don't only look up for validation, look to the side and down for people whose visions fit with yours and are willing to work hard to make it work. Don't be picky about who you work with. And be from Missouri, look for beef, avoid "business models" and hype-based business plans. This advice would have served IBM in the 80s, Apple and Microsoft in the 90s, and today's Internet development world.
Again, it's really about the users. What do they want us to create for them? Perhaps 2001 will be the year when users look at the big picture and help their favorite developers get profitable. We like to talk about technologists having vision, but if users don't have vision too, then there's no way to win.
Y2K was the year SOAP came on the scene. XML-RPC continued growing. In New Orleans I gave a keynote on distributed computing via XML, and the audience need absolutely no selling. These guys weren't sitting on the edge looking scared as so many did in 1998 and 1999. They were in the pool, swimming, starting to make waves.
When we check back with them in late 2001, there will be Web services everywhere, and developers will be able to migrate to any development environment they want to. This is why so much of the focus on Microsoft is incorrect. The purpose of SOAP is to take the focus off Microsoft. Read that sentence 23 times until it sinks in. It's Zen-like and deep.
We did not resolve the mess with RSS this year. Yet we still want to move it forward. There's a reason we did RSS, it wasn't an idle exercise. Our software needs an easy syndication format. That's RSS. Expect movement here soon.
I could sell anyone with a mind on P2P. The user benefits will be substantial if not enormous. The users' data must be available to the user, yet we want the benefit of mobility. We want control. Will P2P be easy? Yes, if you like Mind Bombs. The server will show up on your machine and will be easy to use. Huh?
P2P is not just hype. Using cycles on users' machines to make software work better is high on my todo list for 2001. We'll ship software for Radio before the end of Y2K that works in the P2P way, and Murphy-willing we'll develop in that model through 2001.
Yet there are problems, we're so confused, so much change. We used to know the people at Microsoft who do the Mac browser. We desperately need a fix from them, but they don't get it.
If you work at Microsoft, if you want Mac users to be able to participate in the revolution, make it so that MSIE works fast with a server running on the same machine as the browser. This is the sweet spot, it works great on Windows, not at all on Mac.
It's still up to developers to make it work. Today I don't use a Mac myself, all my software runs on Windows, and that's what I use. But I care about Macs. It's the user thing again. I don't insist they stop using Macs even though I like Windows 2000. I don't wish the Mac would go away, I wish the opposite.
Y2K was a year of development at UserLand. We turned to user interface, as we did in 1999, but this time, instead of focusing on the browser as a writing environment, a problem well-explored now, we returned to the desktop.
In 2001 the Internet will be revealed in a new light, using the power of your computer, and the power of your mind. If you like to use computers and minds, stay tuned, because the Internet will have a lot more to offer in 2001.
Finally, to Scripting News people, thank you. We learned a lot together this year. Thank you for sharing what you know and what you create. This is a unique environment, more and more two-way, even though we need filters to keep on the high road. Being open to everything is not a safe thing to do if you want to explore provocative subjects. But we found a balance that works. Thanks for your patience.
PS: I extended an olive branch privately to O'Reilly, and they did the same. They asked me to see the michegas in RSS as separate from O'Reilly, and I decided to adopt that point of view. I'm hopeful that I will give a talk at their conference in February on my vision for P2P and the Two-Way-Web.