I suspect strongly that those of you who have been regular readers of my column have noticed that I have not been as … well, regular … as I had in the past. The reason for this has partially been my own sheer workload, which has been heavier of late than I normally maintain, due largely to factors beyond my control. The other reason, and one that I have been understandably retiscent about, has been the fact that I have left one employer and taken up with another, and have in the interrim started up my own business as well. As if I didn’t have enough to do…
As of couple of weeks ago, I’ve shifted from working with Mercurial as a regular employer to their being a consulting client. The reasons for this are largely due to my own professional career needs - Mercurial Communications has been, and continues to be, a remarkably good company to work for, and I would continue to recommend them highly if you are needing a team of highly professional developers to bring innovative solutions to market. They have been a mainstay in helping get the SVG Open 2006 Conference up and running (more about that later).
Unfortunately, when you get to a certain point in your career, the desire to control your own direction and destiny becomes an ever-increasing factor, and I found that my intentions and goals have crystalized to a considerable degree just in the last year, to the extent that I’ve chosen to both throw my weight behind a worthwhile start-up, Pioneers of the Inevitable, helping with their flagship Songbird product (http://www.songbirdnest.com), and to start my own company, Metaphorical Web.
Songbird’s an exciting product - started by entrepeneur Rob Lord, its a Mozilla XULRunner based media-player application that’s cross platform, plays nearly every audio (and soon most video) formats on the planet, and is a spectacular example of the various synergies that the open source movement is bringing together to reshape the very nature of product development. My role is, not surprisingly, XML based … I’m responsible for the various and sundry XML feeds passing into and out of the product as well as working to make the product attractive to other service vendors in this space. I will be spending much more time in this space in the future, because I think that it is a harbinger of the next media revolution that’s even now sweeping through the Internet.
Launching Metaphorical Web
The other side of this equation, however, is my labor of love. Long time readers may recognize the “Metaphorical Web” title as the first “blog”/newsletter that I wrote way back in late 2002, and in the age of mashups and dynamic web generation, the name continues to resonate for me. The goal of Metaphorical Web is simple - I want to help people make the jump into the next generation of the web. I’ve been evangelizing about XSLT 2 and XForms, SVG and XHTML, the use of XML Streams and REST-based systems and AJAX and the rich client experience for nearly the last decade, but have always contented myself with writing about it and speaking about it. One of the things that I came to realize, however, while I was at Mercurial, was that to push these technologies properly, I needed to have more autonomy to take the clients that I felt could benefit most from this technology, rather than simply being in a position where I had to take a client because I was in the queue at that point.
Metaphorical Web is a Canadian company, and will be focusing on those technologies that have promoted so heavily over the years, including the deployment of rich, AJAX enabled, data-aware, cross platform web components, development and deployment of XML schemas and XForms processors for companies and government agencies, SVG graphical platform solutions, tools for integration with open API sets such as those of Google, Yahoo, Amazon and others, integration of podcasting and rich media with synchronization tools, and the development of useful tools for XBRL, medical, and financial services schemas. Some of these tools will be open source … some won’t be. I think that any good business needs to balance the two.
Beyond this Metaphorical Web will continue to be my vehicle for promoting the open standards technologies that I feel are so important. I have a Firefox book for Apress that I’m wrapping now, with an AJAX book for Sys-con in the wings, and am planning on working with O’Reilly to write a series of ebooks on a set of cool technologies that I’ve seen emerge of late. I will also be setting up a set of seminars and training sessions for later this year on AJAX programming and open standards technologies, about which I will have more to say later.
I will be launching a Metaphorical Web site soon, with a more comprehensive look at what I’m trying to do.
Finally, Metaphorical Web is working closely with SVG Open 2006 Conference, of which I’m the chairman.
SVG Open 2006 Conference Dates Changed
Concerning that conference … I’m beginning to understand why every conference chair I’ve ever met seems to have grayed prematurely (or at least seems to be dipping pretty heavily into the Grecian Formula). First, I will be making the formal announcement on the SVGOpen.org site, but the following changes have occurred with the SVG conference:
- The conference is being moved to October 16-19, 2006, in order to take advantage of a window of opportunity that’s opened up to get the conference at the Victoria Conference Center and the Empress Hotel. The conference center is attractive and is more than large enough as a primary venue, but the Empress is the real gem … it is where Queen Elizabeth of England stays when she visits the westernmost part of the British Commonwealth, and it is a stunningly beautiful hotel overlooking the picturesque Victoria harbour.
- The University of Victoria has agreed to become a primary sponsor for the conference, and will be handling some of the paper adjudication and volunteer coordination.
- The Sponsorship Packages are now online in PDF format, at http://svgconference.com/images//sponsorshipresource.pdf. We are definitely looking for sponsors of all stripes, because we feel that this year has the potential to be one of the most important year for SVG in its history and we’d like to bring together software vendors, open source developer teams, product manufacturers, artists, and more to push this technology into orbit. If you are interested in helping, please contact me directly at email@example.com; if you are interested in sponsoring, take a look at the package then please contact Louise Taylor, my sponsorship coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Now for even better news … we are likewise extending the deadline for papers and submissions to July 1, 2006, and will be putting better information up about the submissions, contests and related areas .
More information will be up on the site at www.svgopen.org.
I’m not planning at this stage on abandoning these particular posts either to O’Reilly or UnderstandingXML.com - I hope, indeed, to increase them, as I feel they give me a chance to teach (and to learn) and communicate with a wide range of extraordinarily talented people. I am planning on placing some of the more technical of these posts up on Metaphorial Web as part of a developer’s resource network, and look forward to having other people contribute in that space as well. We are entering the age of community programming, and one of my biggest goals is the establishment of an extensive Metaphorical Web community.
Okay, enough of my chatter … back to the grindstone (sigh!). I look forward to talking more with all of you later.
Kurt Cagle is the CEO(?!) of Metaphorical Web, a Canadian company specializing in the promotion of AJAX, XForms and other rich web and intelligent mid-tier XML services. He lives in Victoria, British Columbia with his wife and daughters, who sadly know the words (in English and French, no less) to O Canada far better than their benighted father.