Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Everyone loves Frameworks but there are good software stacks that follow design patterns and there are ones that labour away in your browser.

The whole idea of RESTful design is that the client has an independent life. But RESTful design coupled with intelligent clients that are now possible to write with Javascript frameworks (so we now have two separate software stacks talking through the TCP-IP stack - do we see a pattern here?) so stuff that gets transmitted to the client is designed for that client only, so we craft a software "one fit only" key so that the server can know which client it is talking to - this "state" is preserved in a cookie.

That is what happens when you log in. Your authentication token is added to the package of information providing a secure network. Is this new? Not at all. Why do we not do it all the time? We do, it is called SSL. It provides a "standard" - a measurable way of doing something with an agreed visual clue. Is it secure? Yes.

Innovation and Capital

Over seven years ago I created a website that published academic articles of a leading professional and put in links that allowed you to generate links for your own site to link to the article, or get a link to email to your friend. I also provided lots of expensive looking paper backgrounds with multiple style sheets. It was all innovation and if things had gone better, could have gone somewhere.

Unfortunately when I billed out the work, things did not go as smoothly as they should and that perhaps is a matter of luck or personality. Apparently computer programmers do not have either, but after one year the "dispute" was settled, albeit without no handshake. The client could have angel-invested these social networking ideas, but it was not to be.

At the same time I was suggesting to another client that having groupware could be valuable and was told that they did not want any kind of social interaction on the web. That ex-client now uses Facebook to achieve the same thing.

Both clients basically were not sold on the ideas I had invented. They could have invested in social networking and as an early start been bought out, but those for whom I worked found no confidence in these ideas. Frankly, I was not that committed to them either, but I had worked on a website's groupware functionality in the UK and that website was sold to the Metro group for five million pounds.

Later on I had this other crazy idea for a shared poetry site, only to see it appear about two years later in the form of Twitter. What I tried on did not bite and I am not really claiming prior art. When working on that groupware in the Cambridge lab I worked in, another programmer was demonstrating his Flash games. We all laughed thinking this was going to be a hard way to make money. Of course on line gaming using Flash may be the most successful business model of all, so far.

The next big business model is what I am thinking about. But there is no time, I have to go and get a job. My clients are all worried about their mortgages and its back to implementing other people's labour intensive ideas.

One of the jobs I decided not to go for was a local version of Netflix. Mailing out DVDs is a wonderful business model but with a limited life as bandwidth rolls out over the next three to five years.

The infamous P2P work that supports skype, bit-torrent and - allowing video distribution over the current AM quality internet (it may be faster in New York city, but so is everything else) will become better and better as more people use it. It is a bit like electricity, it relies upon all the connections of the grid to maintain the grid.

And that leads me to the next idea. The next big thing (for me) may be to collect all my blogs into an online magazine and start to get some income from them. But for the internet, and the world, it is ...