Thursday, January 4, 2001 by Dave Winer.
And welcome to 2001!
What a trip. There's no doubt we're in a new century now, and who knows what that means. I'll never see one of these again. Born in 1955 it splits my existence in two, one in the 20th century, and another in this century. This century. It's a different one. What does it mean? Probably nothing.
In the spring the stock market took a dive, no one could be sure if it was a blip or a trend. Now there is no doubt. It was the end of the Dot-com model. It's had a chance to sink in and then sink in again at a deeper level.
It's over. You can't build value by attracting lots of users and monetizing them later. This logic is not sellable now, and possibly never will be again. That's OK, but many are left holding a bag of servers and services designed in the Dot-com period. How do we turn the corner?
It costs money to buy servers and keep them running. When you add features you have to add more servers, because it's inevitable that those features consume CPU cycles. But investors aren't buying us free servers any more, so we have to make the ones we have do more work by distributing the work.
In the centralized model for the Internet, your browser makes requests of a server that could be very far away, or slow for other reasons. Now imagine that the server is very close and you don't have to share it with anyone, it's yours and yours alone. It would be fast!
So how do we get the website so close to your browser?
By putting it on your machine!
That's what Desktop Websites are about. Like Desktop Publishing (DTP) of the 1980s, more of the Web of 2001 will reside on your hard drive, using the CPU cycles of your machine, not on a machine purchased by investors. DTP put new power in the hands of users, and Desktop Websites do that too.
Desktop Websites are much like the ones on centralized servers. But they coordinate with a minimum functionality "cloud" that links things together, in the background, using SOAP and XML-RPC. The packets it sends are smaller because they don't include rendering information. And the communication channel can be optimized to flow content when you're not using bandwidth. The result will be higher fidelity audio and video and no waiting.
You're creating and consuming content in XML, but to the user it looks like a beautiful graphic website, with checkboxes, buttons and a simple text editor, and it's faster than any website you've ever used, because there's no network latency.
I'm using such a website now and loving it. Users will love it because it's so fast and just as easy as using a website that's far away. And guys like me, who run free servers for thousands of people will love it too, because the same servers will be able to connect many more people. By moving most of the work to the edges, our servers only make introductions, they're not doing the heavy lifting they're asked to do in the Dot-com model.
I'll be writing lots more about this, in DaveNet and on Scripting News. UserLand is going to be in the middle with our Radio UserLand software, but I expect Desktop Websites to show up from all corners of the Web developer community. Rarely do things come together this neatly.
PS: Patents continue to be an irritant. UserLand is filing no patents in this area. Lots of prior art is being established now. Help us fight patent madness.