April 30, 2006
Scott McNealy and all those jobs
Johnathon Schartz writes on in his blog today, apropros Scot McNealy "There is no single individual who has created more jobs around the world than you. And unlike Henry Ford and some of the industrialists that preceded you, not all of those folks just work for Sun - I'm not talking hundreds or thousands of jobs, I'm talking millions. They ended up in America and India, Indonesia and Antarctica, Madagascar, Mexico, Brazil and Finland. They ended up everywhere. Everywhere the network travels."
OK, so Schwartz works for SUN, which McNealy, who has just stepped down from running, founded. And indeed SUN has been profoundly instrumental in the "networkification" of the world. So we'll forgive him a little bias.
But might I put forward a slightly different position. The phenomenal growth of the internet in there last 15 years corresponds entirely with the rise of the World Wide Web, and I think there is little argument that this growth of the net is almost entirely due to the Web (and a bit to do with email).
And the web is pretty much the invention of one man, who (I have to keep saying this, as much as to reinforce such an unbelievable notion to myself as anything else) gave it away for free, with no royalties, and with no intellectual property issues attached.
Every single last job related to the web is due to this act by Sir Timothy Berners-Lee. Period. The rest is foot notes.
And I can't but help add the editorialization that it shits me no end that companies from Amazon up down and sideways (I could pretty much name any major technology company here, but Amazon deserves particular mention for their pathetic one click shopping patent) all have freely built enormous success on top of this free, open unencumbered platform, but then want to go ahead and claim they own little bits of innovation on top to the exclusion of others.
It strikes me that in a sane world they would get to make a choice - innovate on top of a free open platform but all such innovations go back into the pot, or build your own platform and patent whatever the hell you like.
But I ever was the idealist.
April 29, 2006
Are you the next Managing Editor at Digital Web Magazine?
Got "mighty fortitude, a fearless heart and a sense of humor", "If you've got a love for the Web, a visionary mind and a facility for language" get in touch with them!
"What, who me?" you ask. "I'm not Eric Meyer, Molly Holzschlag or Nick Finck!" Sure, but the web needs its new names, faces, and voices - and read Faking it for some more inspiration - 'cause let me tell you , back in the day, that's what we were all doing!
So if you are interested, get virtual butt over to DW and let them know.
April 18, 2006
Misunderstanding the browser wars
Trust a bunch of management consultants to take hold of a complex situation, throw it through their simple minded BS filters, and completely miss the point about the "browser wars"
There some marvelously incorrect statements that could have been verified with, you know, like Google, masquerading as arguments, try this on for size:
"Firefox and Camino claim only a small market share, and those users are on the tech-savvy end of the user spectrum. In particular for Mac-centric browsers, we still live in a PC-dominated world. Until IT managers in large enterprises are willing to support these browsers, they will not hit the mainstream in any major fashion.
Why won't an IT manager support these versions? The biggest headache with these browsers is that the majority of Web sites are optimized on IE. Try going to some of the major commercial airline sites, or to the Web sites of older and smaller companies. If you use Firefox, sometimes you will find missing menus, missing pictures, links that don't work, etc. Even Netscape doesn't work with all of our Harvard Business School applications"
There is so much nonsense in that one paragraph, where does one begin?
"Firefox and Camino claim only a small market share" is not even true for the entire market of web browsers, and particularly untrue not just for technically oriented sites, but more generally sites skewed toward younger adult user.
"The biggest headache with these browsers is that the majority of Web sites are optimized on IE". I'll leave the rather clueless use of the final preposition alone, and observe that "the majority are optimized on [sic]" really matters very little in most situations. How often do people who use Safari or Firefox as their primary browser actually have to fire up IE to get anything substantial done? In my case, never. The only time I recall it even an issue in the last 18 months was an insurance site which insisted I "upgrade to" IE6 to use their site. Missed several hundred sure fire dollars there.
But my point is not to harp on about the usual hand waving and half accurate observations. It's a bigger and far more important one.
IE did not win the browser wars, despite for a long time dominating market share. No one will ever win the browser wars, because the game is over. Standards won the browser wars. A handful of geeks few people have ever heard of, at the W3C, and the WaSP, and Mozilla and in their own workplaces, and user groups, and among their peers made supporting web standards the only game in town.
Mature industries rarely have the kind of utter dominance by a single player that IT and the Web have had with Microsoft. They have a plurality of suppliers, and manufacturers. Because mature industries have standards, which don't throw up huge technical barriers to entry.
We don't go to different filling stations to buy petrol for different makes of car, or buy different televisions to watch different stations, or (not yet) different players for the music we buy. Mature industries aren't like that.
The web has taken huge steps toward maturity in the last 4 or 5 years, and in many respects it's probably more mature than the overall PC industry, ironically, where one proprietary pseudo standard dominates not simply operating systems, but applications (i.e. Office).
Well done you nameless geeks. What will we do next? Pharmaceuticals look ripe for the plucking.
April 16, 2006
It's probably stating the bleeding obvious that having children makes you more domestic. You tend to spend more time at home than perhaps previously, and are up odd hours of the day and night. You also tend to be somewhat more exhausted than often before. You cannot begin to describe the state of exhaustion you can get into.
All this is by way of offering an excuse for talking about television - I didn't even have a television until about 3 years ago.
Anyway, enough excuses. One of the shows which has rather taken our fancy over here is "Faking It", a British reality sort of show. The premise is simple - can a group of experts take a person and skill them in a field they have no experience in, so that within a month they can fool a group of expert judges into believing the candidate is not the fake among a group of possible fakes.
It's interesting for a number of reasons. One is that the expert judges often objectively score the performance of the candidate highly, yet, when asked who the fake is, go against their objective judgement and single out the correct person. But not all the time though. Interestingly, it's often harder to acquire the right attitude than it is the skill. The skills don't give people away, their confidence, their "style", and their attitude do.
What interests me above all is the issue of what can be faked? When I first hear the challenge, I like to try and work out whether that particular profession or skill can be faked by someone in a month. I'm not always right, by a long shot.
I sailed a lot when I was young, and really thought the idea of someone who had never sailed faking it as the skipper of a reasonably competitive yacht was essentially impossible, against professional sailors who had been sailing all their lives. Wrong.
So, what can be faked? I suspect there are some areas which require some objective physical quality - like marathon running, body building and the like would simply be impossible. I suspect mathematics, and other areas requiring huge bodies of reasonably arcane knowledge would also be impossible. But what are the boundaries?
I'd like to take a person who can use a computer, and see whether I could turn them into a standards based web developer in a month. I suspect that would be possible.
What do you think? What could be faked with a month's hard work? And what simply couldn't be?