Microsoft, 'open' data, and the curse of open source
Thanks a lot, HTML5
Do the rise of cloud computing and the outbreak of peace on open standards in the browser mean programmers will be forced to find new ways to make money online?
In the last few days, Microsoft surrendered to common sense by announcing that Internet Explorer will finally embrace common standards with HTML5.
It was a critical moment that potentially means the end of the lock-in that enabled Microsoft and others to charge for their coding work. While IE might be free, billions of hours were spent on custom coding as Microsoft, partners, and an entire industry built web sites, applications and online services first for Microsoft's browser and then for everybody else that bothered to adhere to web standards.
The disappearance of this walled garden - due to happen with IE 9 - has coincided with the feverish rise of smart-phone makers and service providers falling over themselves to give consumers access to things like Twitter and Facebook on their handsets.
Apple, Palm, Microsoft, Google, Blackberry, and Symbian are fighting to prove they too offer access to exactly the same handful of social networks so their users can also Tweet their way through important business meetings.
Increasingly, this battle to carry the same services requires both integration between services and between those services and the operating system.
Palm, for example, has Synergy in its webOS that links and merges contacts, calendar information and messages to avoid fumbling through different screens. On the other end of the scale, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Series has a long way to go on basic integration and multitasking, but we should expect it to catch up over time in classic Microsoft fashion.
This trend for integration is starting to reach into the world of the desktop. Lucid Lynx - the next version of the Linux desktop due imminently - will integrate Twitter and Facebook into the software, according to Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth.
That should merge the desktop and online worlds so people don't have to fire up their browser or a separate application to use their social applications.
All this means that while each mobile and desktop operating system is unique and highly complex - facts that let developers charge for the time and work that goes into building their software - they are all targeting exactly the same data by writing to exactly the same APIs, be they Facebook's or Google's vast repository of search queries or geo-location information.
This trend of writing to what speakers at the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) this week in San Francisco, California called "open data" - never mind the whole issue of proprietary cloud lock in - is being further driven by giants like Microsoft and Google.
In health, for example, you have Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health - two growing repositories that are seeing Microsoft and Google set themselves up as massive gatekeepers of information. They have recognized that in the information age, survival comes not by adding more features to applications or operating systems but by owning the information itself and then letting others access it. Talk about buying your way into the future.
Next page: Oh my, OData
"How the hell do we make money on open data
Its my data - what the fuck makes you think you have any right ot make money out of it just because you've held back open standards for 15 years?
You know, the militant "agile development is all" group. Spasmodic development methodology, or development by hallucinogenic random approximation. Explosive web2orhea against the Teflon wall and see what sticks.
Is there really value (money to be made) in data? For what purpose? Needless government scrutiny and advertising revenue?
News flash: if your only real revenue stream is advertising, then you are selling fluff. Microsoft is trying to make money from fluff, and has been failing miserably at it since MSN-NBC went online. Google sells billboard space, and it is worth as much as its real customers think. Just because there is a lot of something doesn't mean that there is money to be made with truckloads of it. Yes, Google has my searches. But what is my raw search information worth? About as much as a blog post. This means that it isn't worth anything, yet supposedly savvy executives keep grasping at the mirage of a pie miles up in the sky.
There is no "curse" here of open source. Open source means "open source CODE" and HTML5 is a text mark-up language, not something meant to be acted upon by a CPU. I never liked writing the same web page for different browsers, and I'm sure others feel the same way. And since IE9 doesn't work on XP, I'm sure that there will be many people miserably (but gainfully) employed for some time to come.
Is there even "open data" out there? When was the last time that anybody (absolutely anybody) could access Google's information at will? Um, never? So the real term is "closed data" and hoo boy, it takes some legal wrangling to get it. Not something that any of us can do at a whim. So Google's great mountain of data about our searches, etc., actually has a white picket fence around it. Same with any of the others.
The support of HTML5 does NOT mean that there will be a privacy "invasion." HTML5 is not affected by the laws of various communities, states, and national governments. What *is* affected is the information wrapped up in HTML5 (or HTML4, HTML3, HTML2, HTML, notes wrapped around a pigeon's leg, etc) that makes governing bodies squawk. If the information collected about people was made totally anonymous and never published at all, nobody would care. But it isn't. The data is meant to be used to paint a target on our collective foreheads, all in the name of advertising.
Open source code is *not* some panacea. It just means that the software can be modified by anybody with the expertise to do so. If the software is crap, then it is simply crap. If the overall concept is good, then someone may come along and toss out the crap and create the next version. This is done by someone with the will and drive to do it. If nobody comes around to change it, then it just stays crap.
FOSS does not immediately mean ponies for everyone. That's like saying that if someone writes a web page, then you have a business. No, you have a business because you are selling something to paying customers, and you are making a profit.
There is no curse of open source. There *is* a curse of cluelessness. ("Clues for the clueless, clues for the clueless .. here, can you spare a clue?")
"This trend for integration is starting to reach into the world of the desktop. Lucid Lynx - the next version of the Linux desktop due imminently"
Lucid Lynx is not the next version of 'the Linux desktop'. It's the next version of the Ubuntu distribution. I know Canonical tries very hard to do this reality distortion field trick on you poor press hacks where 'Ubuntu' and 'Linux' become synonymous, but it really isn't true. Do try to resist. =)