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CTO of the Year

Saturday, December 20, 2008 by Dave Winer.

A picture named trophy.gifTis the season for X Of The Year awards.  Permalink to this paragraph

Time has Person Of The Year, I have Blogger Of The Year, and InformationWeek has CTO Of The Year, who they just announced is Werner Vogels of Amazon. I heartily endorse this choice.  Permalink to this paragraph

Vogels has led us into the age of cloud computing, a buzzword for sure, but also a kind of software development that holds great promise. For me, it's the next step on a path that began with CompuServe in 1980, when I begged them to let me run software on their server, so I could do great things with their CB Radio environment. Of course they wouldn't. Now, Amazon not only lets me run software in their cloud, but the environment I run it is exactly the same environment that runs on my 7-inch netbook computer. That makes my inner software architect very very happy. You just need to write the app for one platform and voila, it's available at 40,000 feet on a jet flying at 600MPH from NY to SF, and who-knows-where (geographically) in Amazon's cloud. I actually logged onto my server from the jet using Remote Desktop Connection. I knew it would work, but I just had to try it to say I'd done it. It did work.  Permalink to this paragraph

Now Werner had the vision to do all this, and more -- and to somehow get the huge organization that Amazon is to ship it with the vision intact. That's what CTOs do, their work is more prosaic than ideological, although ideology is important. The main thing the CTO does is get the organization to do important things. I don't know how he does it, it's a skill I don't have, but I'm in awe of it. Permalink to this paragraph

There's another thing to commend Vogels, he reads this blog. No joke, to me that's important, because we have a basis for communication. We've only met once, but he was instantly familiar because of the email exchanges we've had.  Permalink to this paragraph

Now from time to time I shoot an idea over his way, something I'd like to see Amazon do in their cloud, and he never says one way or the other if they're going to do it, but sometimes the ideas do come out. Whether I was an impetus or not doesn't matter -- I'm happy when I get what I wanted.  Permalink to this paragraph

A few months ago I suggested they implement the back-end of a Twitter-like service as part of the Amazon cloud. This was back when Twitter was having huge trouble keeping the service up. Now they're not having that problem, Twitter is much more reliable, but I think it's still a good idea, and I wonder if we even need Amazon to do it. It might be possible to build what I want using the services they already provide.  Permalink to this paragraph

Let's give it a go. Viewed from the cloud perspective, my Twitter stream, the one I read, is a sequence of 140-character bits of text with several attributes. Easy to represent in SimpleDB or S3. Then the question is who has the right to insert something into that sequence? The answer is the people I follow. So there must be a way to represent that, again SimpleDB would have no trouble doing that. That list is publicly readable but only I can write to it. Now that's something I have to look into. Does SimpleDB offer permissions like that? I know S3 does. So maybe my follow list should just be stored in S3. It's very much like an RSS subscription list, and we have many years of experience working with those and a fairly consistently implemented standard. Obviously there's a user interface to Twitter, many of them, but that's not something I would ever expect Amazon to do, that's the province of the developers. Permalink to this paragraph

This is just an exercise. Not sure if it goes anywhere, but it may be something to get a conversation started. Permalink to this paragraph

I've also suggested to Evan at Laconi.ca that he offer an AMI on Amazon for an instant microblogging server.  Permalink to this paragraph

But I guess my point, at the end of this rambler, is congrats and thanks to Werner and his team at Amazon for pushing the market in this direction. They're doing good work.  Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

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"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

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