Over on Beter Living Through Software Joshua, responding to my Adam Bosworth inspired post, says:
Zawodny must have forgotten that Bosworth ran the web browser team at Microsoft, and then the XML team (named “WebData”, which should imply something about the value proposition). It's true that people sometimes go overboard about software “platforms” (and especially at app server vendors like BEA where Bosworth recently worked). But it's just a bit contrived to talk about “information and community” as if it's something special and new that only the search engine vendors get.
I'm puzzled by his remarks.
First off, I know that Bosworth was at Microsoft for quite a while and had a big hand in IE development--that's exactly why I think he's in a fairly unique position to have an opinion on the platform vs. the community. He was, in a way, helping to create a piece of software that enabled this shift.
Going beyond that, I'm not sure who was suggesting this as something that only search engine vendors get. I wasn't. Adam didn't seem to be either.
A lot of companies are starting to see this--it has nothing to do with search. On-line communities, social networks, and the blog world are all valuable not because of the software behind them. It merely enables users to create and communicate in better ways than ever before. The software, in fact, is slowly but surely becoming a less visible part of these ecosystems.
But since he picked on "search engine vendors", let's think about that for a moment. Google owns Blogger. Microsoft (arguably an up-and-coming search company) has Channel 9 and IM. Yahoo has Groups and IM. Those are all services in which the real value comes from users connecting themselves with each other and not the software they're using. It's very different than Windows 2000 or Star Office.
Posted by jzawodn at October 13, 2004 08:57 PM
You (and Adam) are saying that there has been a shift from "platform" to "community" thinking, and that Microsoft itself (or at least the "old" Microsoft) represents the "platform" thinking. I believe this is rewriting history, and a dramatization. As I said, there have always been people who went overboard about "platforms", and thought that was where the value was. These people always existed, and they will always be with us. One striking thing about Web 2.0 was the insistence that some have on resurrecting "web as a platform" meme. At the same time, the real power and value in computing has always been in connecting people with one another, and the real value in computing was produced by people connected with one another (more than APIs or platforms or frameworks or whatever). The idea that there was ever a huge value in "frameworks" is probably an exaggeration perpetrated by people who shipped frameworks. Frameworks and platforms are nice hooks to market to developers, but I'm not so certain that anyone has ever been truly deluded into thinking that is where the value is centered.
Thanks for the clarification. Now I can mull this over for a bit. ;-)