Wednesday, January 4, 2006

2006 prediction #2: consumerization comes in most unexpected areas

Gartner has recently published some research on how consumer technologies fuel innovation. Former META (which has been acquired by Gartner last year) CEO Dale Kutnick for instance has published a podcast on the power shift resulting from consumerization. Consumerization is everywhere! Web 2.0 is just a container term for all kinds of innovations / concepts / technologies that are a result of this consumerization. Very often the results are very surprising, and the idea of mashup even adds to these surprises. Major innovation does not only come from R&D departments of large organizations (either commercial or academic), but also from clever and unexpected usage from consumers. By combining (this is what mashup is about!) concepts and technologies new tools, concepts and technologies evolve.

Take this article (in Dutch) in a major Dutch newspaper for instance, about how the Nintendo Gameboy can be used to increase the engine power of scooters. It writes about how some clevers kids and mechanics found out, that with a Nintendo Gameboy you can easily read and manipulate the software and chips inside scooters. This makes it possible to erase the speed limitation which is set within the software, so that scooters can go way faster than the legally allowed 50 km/hour (in fact they can go as fast as 90 km/hour).
That's not all: not only kids and mechanics are taking advantage of this, but it has also gained the attention of scooter manufacturers, who are now developing and selling special cartridges for the Gameboy to read the scooter's technical data. They also provide special cables to attach the Gameboy to the scooter.

The above Gameboy anecdote is just an example to show how consumerization works, and that the results of the evolution can be found in the most unexpected areas. So this is my second prediction for 2006: we will see that consumerization will continue to drive innovation, and the results will be very surprising.

Is Web 2.0 amoral?

Nicholas Carr has written a quite influential piece on Web 2.0, already back in October 2005. The article is titled "The amorality of Web 2.0", and Nicholas saves the beef of his article for the last part. His point is the following (please read the full article too, it's well worth it!):

The Internet is changing the economics of creative work - or, to put it more broadly, the economics of culture - and it's doing it in a way that may well restrict rather than expand our choices. Wikipedia might be a pale shadow of the Britannica, but because it's created by amateurs rather than professionals, it's free. And free trumps quality all the time. So what happens to those poor saps who write encyclopedias for a living? They wither and die. The same thing happens when blogs and other free on-line content go up against old-fashioned newspapers and magazines. Of course the mainstream media sees the blogosphere as a competitor. It is a competitor. And, given the economics of the competition, it may well turn out to be a superior competitor. The layoffs we've recently seen at major newspapers may just be the beginning, and those layoffs should be cause not for self-satisfied snickering but for despair. Implicit in the ecstatic visions of Web 2.0 is the hegemony of the amateur. I for one can't imagine anything more frightening.

In "We Are the Web," Kelly writes that "because of the ease of creation and dissemination, online culture is *the* culture." I hope he's wrong, but I fear he's right - or will come to be right.

This last part of his point, is what sociologists call cultural generalization. This is one of the aspects of modernization or modernism, along with structural differentiation (a long-winded way of saying that the world around is is becoming more complex). Sociologists have been writing about this modernization process for decades, and from the works of Marx, Weber, heck even Ritzer (author of the bestseller The McDonaldization of Society), we can only conclude that modernization and its consequences are inevitable. Considered from this view point, it is safe to say that Web 2.0 does not cause this cultural generalization, but only accelerates it. So is Web 2.0 amoral? Nah, not more than other forces driving modernization.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Movie stars and SOA

This morning I read on the sys-con website that in the Harrison Ford movie "Firewall" the main character is a security expert who reads SOA/Web Services Journal. As sys-con proudly writes on their web site:

In "Firewall" SOA Web Services Journal is Jack Stanfield's favorite trade magazine where you see Harrison Ford reading the magazine in one scene and on the coffee table in his office, in two other scenes.
SYS-CON Media granted permission to Warner Brothers approximately one year ago for the studio to have Harrison Ford's character to appear with the magazine in the movie.
"Firewall" will open in movie theaters on February 10, 2006.

Two questions for all of you:
  1. Do security experts really read Web Services Journal (WSJ) from a professional point of view, or just for fun / leisure. I like WSJ, but quite frankly to me it is not famous for its articles on security.
  2. Can anyone confirm that Harrison is reading the issue which has my article on BizTalk 2004 in it? That would be quite something for me and a great start of 2006, knowing that Indiana Jones had a look at my BizTalk decision tree ;-).

Monday, January 2, 2006

2006 prediction #1: web service standards

Back in September I wrote that web services appeared to move away from WS-* protocols and standards. Looking back now I was partly right. It is certainly so that, especially with the emergence of Ajax and Web 2.0 in the second half of 2005, other non WS-* protocols have gained attention and are used more widely. In fact, both Ajax and Web 2.0 rely more on POX (Plain Old XML) and REST, than on WS-Security, WS-Transaction or WS-I and the like. What will further happen with web service protocols and standards in 2006?

The WS-* and more lightweight standards like POX, REST and Ajax will peacefully co-exist. As being part of an SOA and featuring heavily in the attempts by major vendors to improve their SOBA's and make them future-proof, we will need a robust framework for web services. The further elaboration of the WS-* stack can provide this, so for inter-application, inter-organization and any other service-oriented application, the WS-* will still be the best pick.
However, for services that are primarily user-centric, the best pick will be REST/POX/Ajax. Use these technologies for presenting the information that is being processed using protocols and standards from the WS-* stack.

My prediction is that both the WS-* stack and its lightweight counterpart will continue to evolve and mature, and that we will learn that these are not rival standards, but rather complementary standards that will feature heavily in organizations pursuing SOA / Web 2.0 success. Whether we like it or not, Ajax and Web 2.0 concepts are here to stay, and they provide an attractive alternative for presentation functions for which WS-* is over-bloated.

My second prediction is that the WS-* stack will be start to be consolidated in 2006, and the numbers of standards for web services will rather decrease, than increase. New joint efforts from vendors and standard bodies will be started to unify competing standards. Also, standards that overlap heavily, will be slammed together to increase the simplicity of the WS-* protocols.
Still the golden rule for WS-* standards applies: use SDKs and generators as much as possible, and do not go about adopting and implementing all WS-* standards out there. Do not even attempt to grasp all of them.