News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
General Magic's Real Assets By Wesley Felter, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today, General Magic announced its new "Networks" service. From the few details provided, it looks like some sort of agent technology driven by speech recognition. Whizzy stuff! But I don't think it will succeed. A look through General Magic's history will explain why.
When General Magic first appeared, their chief asset was not their PDAs, which were slow even compared to the Newton. It was not Magic Cap, their operating system that focused too much on a physical space metaphor. It was Telescript, their agent programming language. General Magic apparently saw Telescript only as a part of Magic Cap, and so it didn't get as much exposure at it probably deserved for what was (and still is) a revolutionary paradigm.
Today they seem to be betting on some ethereal concept that involves voice control and agent technology. It's sci-fi stuff, just like all their past promises. But they've never fully delivered on a past promise.
If they want to dream, I won't fault them for it. But what surprises me about this announcement is that General Magic's new chief asset is not this "network service", but an implementation of their agent technology in Java called Odyssey. Whereas Telescript was a proprietary language that never quite got to version 1.1, Java is everywhere. Agents written using Odyssey can run on any Java platform and can access all standard Java features. A win-win situation, and you can download it today. This is what they should be promoting, because it's an incremental improvement, not a change-the-world proposition.