Date: Feb 8 1999
From: Peter Rowley
To: ask_tim@oreilly.com
Subject: "infoware" talk at ISPCON 98

You gave a fascinating talk at ISPCON 98 on what you see as the next step in the evolution of applications, namely infoware, which I take (possibly wrongly) to be applications whose value is derived directly from the combination of robust and intelligent algorithms and the comprehensiveness/accuracy of a particular body of content, e.g. white page directories, or (my idea) perhaps a visual dictionary of parts used in old houses and their modern equivalents (with a search engine that works on images from a digital camera!). Do you have anything written on this approach?

Thanks,
Peter


Peter,

The example you give is a good one. This is certainly one kind of infoware application--and in fact, one that companies like Autodesk are already working with. You can get catalogs of parts for Autocad designs. As you build a design using off-the-shelf parts, you can generate orders to a variety of vendors when you're actually ready to build the thing.

As I see it, infoware is really the next frontier. HTML+Scripting+Databases opens up so many more opportunities to computerize common tasks than we were ever able to do with traditional software.

I wrote up some of my ideas on Infoware in the special Open Source issue of Esther Dyson's Release 1.0 newsletter. It's available for free as a sample issue on her web site. A modified version of some of the same material also appears in our recent book Open Sources, a collection of essays about Open Source and related software development methodologies penned by the leaders and innovators in the field.

--Tim

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