I attended the …

I attended the Meet-the-Makers conference today in New York, which featured a whole lot of people smarter than me. The whole event was pretty well put together and renewed my flagging interest in all things Web. The most interesting new technology I saw was something from Netomat, which has built an XML-based markup language for writing rich-media applications (e.g. interactive email advertising, etc.) that use a standard Java runtime engine. It’s a lot like what Macromedia is doing with FlashMX, but without the plug-in technology requirement. I also met some long-time CamWorld fans (Hi!) who had good things to say. Zeldman made an appearance, as did David Wertheimer and too many others to name individually. The organizers have said they are planning more of these invitation-only peer-group conferences, with one happening every six months or so, with the next one to be held in San Francisco.

As much as I don’t like the closed-source nature of the Flash Player, I am starting to come around regarding my opinion on it. I’m starting to see how useful it can be for certain online experiences. I will be downloading some Flash stuff pretty soon to play with it some more as I haven’t closely looked at the development tools in quite some time.

I guess I’m glad that I didn’t drop $5000 on that high-end digital TV I’ve wanted for about two years now. If the MPAA and Disney have their way, these sets will be worthless soon as they try to lock down on piracy and control the technology behind digital TV. Actually, I think these sets may end up being very valuable if such laws are passed, since there will suddenly be a limited number of sets that have the technology that allows piracy measures to be bypassed.

APIs and Front-End Technologies: Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about Web Services and the interfaces that sit on top of them. I’ve talked with companies who provide Web Services and one of the first questions I ask is whether they offer any kind of API or open connectivity that encourages other companes (even their competitors) to develop applications, services and tools based on the data/services they provide. Think about it this way: If a data feed/service is open or has some way to connect to it via an open API, then you are free to connect to that feed/service with whatever application, technology, or user interface you want. Google would like people to access their data in as many ways as possible, hence their Google API. Amazon also would like this, and has released their Amazon XML API. Even Microsoft has tried to get into this market by pushing their idea of .NET and the Common Language Runtime (CLR) layer. But the thing that really gets me excited is the idea of building multiple front-ends or interfaces for the same application/service. Not because I like all the extra work, but because I want to see what it’s like (and how hard it is) to build a Flash front-end, a Mozilla front-end, an [X]HTML front-end, a Windows app front-end, etc. — all for the same service. If we listened to Macromedia’s song-and-dance, the world of Web Services would be couched in FlashMX. If we listened to Microsoft, it’d be deployed in the various apps you can build with Visual Studio .NET. The Mozilla folks have been pushing the Mozilla Application Framework as a solution for Web Services for a long time. Old-skool net-heads are still insisting that Web Services have an HTML front-end. The Japanese and the Europeans want everything to be accessible with mobile devices. My point is that there are so many options now for what technologies you can build your front-end in that it’s becoming a virtual war between the competing companies. The company that controls the technology for Web Services implementation will ultimately win. Who will it be? Microsoft? Macromedia? Open source (Mozilla)? I think it’s too early to tell.

Dan Gillmor’s recent column on privacy and big business is a must-read. He nails it on several points.

And now, for some funny links:

Posted by Cameron Barrett at April 23, 2002 07:16 PM

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