Monday, April 3, 2006

ajaxWrite, LimeWire and the digital divide

First there was the news last week that the much talked about web-based word editor ajaxWrite has nothing to do with Ajax as it is fully written in Firefox-proprietary language XUL (the fact that it only runs in Firefox should have raised some suspicion...). Typical case of randomly selecting a hyped term and incorporating it in the name of your product. The web service tooling arena has suffered from this before, when every small vendor incorporated the term SOA in the name of its products, and now it is time for Ajax to suffer from these effects.

Then this morning when I was stuck for 2 hours in a traffic jam, I heard the news on the radio that a Dutch newspaper took the test, and searched on the Internet for confidential information people by accident had put on the web through file sharing programs such as LimeWire. It was shocking what they found within the hour: passwords, tax declarations, application letters, resumes, passport scans and even proposals for the Dutch national security agency and the Ministry of Justice and Defense. All this by just searching for the term "confidential" (but then the Dutch word for it of course).

These two news items, that do not seem to have much in common, show that a lot of people have no clue what they are doing or what they are dealing with. As with the Ajax case, a lot of (techie) people will think they have a cool Ajax app running, while in fact it is just as proprietary as MSFTs Word for instance. The results of the ignorance of the file sharing capabilities are worse however. I am sure that all those persons put their confidential data on the web, just thought that it would be cool too if they could download the latest music or movies just like their neighbor kid, and they never intended to throw half of their private life on the net.

Everytime when I hear such news, I get the feeling that maybe in some aspects we are too far ahead in IT with our newest technology stuff. A lot of people are having trouble catching up with the latest evolvements, and because sometimes they are not fully aware of the possibilities and power of technology (as with the file sharing item), the results can be quite bad. I wrote about this before, and not only within IT we can find the problem of a divide between the front runners and a large group that has trouble catching up, but this is also the case on a macro level, in society. This is often called the digital divide, and with the increasing consumerization of IT, which will be driven by a young group of very tech-savvy consumers, I think this divide will become even greater. The results will be likewise.

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