Related link: http://news.com.com/2010-1075-847893.html
Bowstreet’s Frank Moss seems rather concerned about the dirty little secrets of Web Services:
“They all are singing in harmony about how Web services will introduce a brave new world of interoperability, unprecedented flexibility and openness. This is exciting, but do you remember the last time these guys were all singing the same tune? They were trying to tell us that client/server applications would level the playing field and make computing cheap, easy and open. Yeah, right!
Believe me, these guys don’t make the big bucks by trying to level the playing field for their competitors or make things easy for their customers. As in the past, their strategy is to talk a good game. But at the same time each is trying to create a new proprietary lock-in that will make them the winner in Web services. How? By attempting to own and control Web services, up to the application level.
This is a much darker (though admittedly higher-level) picture than David Orchard’s recent Web Services Pitfalls. Both Orchard and Moss seem to find happy endings, though.
Are vendors giving up control of one layer to take tighter control of the layers above it?
Related link: http://lists.xml.org/archives/xml-dev/200202/msg01411.html
James Michael DuPont asks about ways in which XML and Web Services may be changing the nature of linking between code, and implications for the GPL.
It’s not entirely clear where the boundaries of linkage lie. SOAP connections are not compiled into the code, but can establish very tight API connections over a network or even on the same computer between code of various types.
It’ll be interesting to see where this one goes, and what if anything happens to licensing as a result.
Do XML and Web Services change the nature of linking? Or is this just old news repackaged yet again?
Related link: http://xmlhack.com/read.php?item=1558
The W3C may not have entirely ruled out RAND in their latest Patent Policy draft, but they certainly make it clear that they’re not very interested in dealing with it.
The new draft is nearly a complete reorganization of the previous draft, and the change log notes “RAND track dropped” - an encouraging sign to be sure.
It isn’t clear, however, that RAND is dead, however much most of the writers (myself included) of comments would like to see that happen. An exception-handling mechanism deals with cases where “a patent has been disclosed that may be essential, but is not available on RF terms.”
That exception-handling mechanism may determine how the policy functions in practice. If there are lots of exceptions, or unclear grounds for what qualifies as an exception, the foundation policy may not be as important.
(For more details and background, visit the xmlhack story.)
RAND is now at least relegated to exceptional status. Is this a victory over patents?
Related link: http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-tag/2002Feb/0170.html
Elliotte Rusty Harold, author of XML in a Nutshell and keeper of the Cafe Con Leche XML news site, defends XML against “an extreme Aristotelian tendency in the XML world that tries to lock everything down and insist that there’s only one way to do it, that all documents must adhere to a schema, that there can be
only one schema per document, and even that there can be only one schema language.”
These comments came during a discussion on the W3C Technical Architecture Group about a “Skunkworks” XML 2.0 spec Tim Bray had written. Some people wanted to see processing instructions removed completely, noting their wide-open content and freedom from schema constraint.
Harold’s conclusion is a reminder that XML’s flexibility is what gives it so much power:
“XML is not Aristotelian. It’s fuzzy, and that’s part of its power and its usefulness.“
Would you like some Platonic Forms with your schema? Or do you agree with Thales that “everything is water”?
Related link: http://www.dreamsongs.com/Feyerabend/Feyerabend.html
Paul Feyerabend’s philosophical and scientific legacy of semantic instability seems to be inspiring new work in computing, a deliberate effort to “repair the arena of software development and practice.”
Looking for change isn’t always the best way to find it, perhaps, but it’s encouraging to see people challenge the fundamentals. Computing seems to be filled with people who know their way is the best way, and perhaps it’s a good time to consider other ways.
Does computing need frequent rethinking?
Related link: http://www.salon.com/books/letters/2002/02/08/welfare/index.html
Military historian Caleb Carr needs to learn when to hold his fire.
Carr, author of Lessons of Terror, doesn’t seem to realize that reaching a “provocative set of conclusions” (as the catalog describes his book) often means that people disagree with those conclusions.
In response to (what I thought was) Laura Miller’s mildly unhappy review of the book on Salon, Carr storms:
“Read the New York Observer review: At least it displays SOME knowledge of the SUBJECT, rather than just ATTITUDE.“
“LAURA MILLER: REASON NO. 8 MILLION WHY THE SOUL OF NEW YORK CITY IS DYING.“
It doesn’t appear to be an isolated incident, either. Carr seems to be running around blasting any reviewer who complains - at least any mass-market reviewer. Maybe if Carr wants to insure that the book is reviewed by critics who meet his particular standards for discussing military history and share his set of opinions, he should stick with specialty books sold to a specialty market.
And even though it might seem strange, similar things happen with technical books. Authors pour enormous amounts of work into books that not everyone always appreciates. Even the best of technical books are rarely fit for every possible reader - there are too many variations of style, approach, and yes, even facts in technical writing for everyone to be happy all the time.
If you’re an author, whatever you’re writing, try to remember that not everyone is going to like everything you do. Try to learn from critics, but don’t let them make you so angry that you have to reply like this. It won’t impress critics and it won’t impress readers.
Reviews can be a blessing or a curse for an author. How do you handle reviews?
Related link: http://www.ws-i.org
Microsoft, IBM, and BEA seem to have decided that the W3C’s new Web Services Activity isn’t enough for them, and have set up the Web Services Interoperability Organization, yet another corporate gathering.
Apparently following the model of UDDI, where an endless list of members covers for the lack of actual openness in the decision-making process, WSIO has signed up quite a roster. It isn’t clear what participation costs, as annual fees aren’t disclosed on the site, nor it is it clear where decision-making power actually rests.
Sun may soon join the pile-on.
A FAQ is available, and may help illuminate what exactly WSIO does and how it differs from existing organizations in the same space. The most substantial comment the FAQ makes on the subject is that:
“While there are many organizations currently engaged developing specifications around the area of Web Services, customers are looking for industry alignment and agreement around groupings of specifications to provide interoperability and direction. WS-I brings the work of multiple standards development organizations together for the purpose of providing clarity and conformance around Web Services. In addition, this implementerís forum seeks to provide implementation guidance to customers.“
None of that actually sounds very different from the W3C’s recently-established Web Services Activity, but maybe there’s more to this than consortium politics. Or maybe not.
And then there are those lingering questions about patents…
Is WSIO about making Web Services better, or just about politics, PR, and patents?
Related link: http://www.wired.com/news/linux/0,1411,50173,00.html
Wired’s reporting on LinuxWorld suggests that suits and hackers still don’t mix well. A quote from a suit:
“They may have made Linux, but we know how to make money with it, and we just can’t understand why they don’t care about that.“
Wired has enjoyed reporting on the divide between tech and the selling of tech before, and it’s a pretty common fault line to hit.
While suits and hackers labelling each other cults is an easy target for comedy, it’s worth noting that business and technology are not a natural fit - though that concept may not sit well with business-oriented people who see cash-generation as the one true paradigm for the world.
Business imperatives seem to drive an awful lot of undercooked and oversold technology, while the care that developers often lavish on their own pet projects can’t possibly make sense in a strictly business ROI scenario. The business imperative is to make the most money while spending the least money; the technological imperative is more typically to solve a problem, and solve it well. Balancing these things is difficult, even in well-run companies, and even harder in a more widely distributed and culturally separate open-source world.
The suit may have a point: making things and selling things don’t necessarily go together.
Do tech culture and business culture have anything to do with each other? Should they?