Sunday, January 27, 2008

FB - how does your garden grow?

There's no denying the critical mass swirling around Mark Zuckerberg's brainchild. But are they sensing a premature plateau on the horizon? If not, then why bother to open up their walled garden?

The answer is simple; they're not. According to Henry Blodget at
This move seems another smart step toward a hybrid strategy: Allow app makers (and Facebook) to extend social-graph functionality to the web, gather more app users, and recruit more members--but retain full control over the social graph itself.
This couldn't be any closer to the definition of "closed". Fortunately for us, there are alternatives. OpenID, while still somewhat nascent, sets the foundation for a truly open design.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Vignette - as viable as the Titanic

While the ride for this CMS vendor lasted longer than its nautical counterpart, I have to agree with Kas Thomas at CMS Watch. The iceberg's been struck:
* Total revenue for fiscal year 2007 was $191.8 million, down 3% from fiscal year 2006.
* Year-over-year license revenue: down 15.5%.
* Year-over-year services revenue: up 3.5%.
* R&D spending: down 8.9%.
And all of this on the heels of a Q3 alone that produced year-over-year license revenues which were down by 50% (yes, FIFTY).

Now watch everyone scatter for the lifeboats:

1/10/2008 - Leo Brunnick (Vignette Senior VP, Products and Marketing) announces intent to resign. His last day was the 25th

1/16/2008 - Vignette GM for EMEA is replaced

1/25/2008 - Graham Pullen, GM for APAC, resigns

Time to let this one go Kate Winslet style (sorry Leo [DiCaprio], er, Vignette).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Take another hit from your bong

A recent article by Bill Snyder makes reference to a new study from Research 2.0 (which I could not locate) and surmises:
The sea change in open source from pure-play provider to traditional vendor is not a symptom of discontent with the software itself... All of this is evidence that the days of the freewheeling open source movement are numbered.
One of us is living in their own reality as I certainly don't see the same thing. If you're gonna hit the bong that hard, at least pass it along with the article for the rest of us.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Economic stimulus - Rebate or Welfare?

While the President and Congress agree in principle on some form of a stimulus package, everyone also concedes that many details must be vetted -- and quickly. The centerpiece of the plan will be: the form of one-time rebates. But he [President Bush] did not say how much money Americans would get to keep or the amount of other tax incentives that could be in the package. Nor did Bush detail how the nation would pay for such a plan.
Does this seem to anyone else like "robbing Peter to pay Paul"? I get the concept, and this approach has precedent. However, I'm concerned that the only real impact will be in this week's headlines - and not on our economy.

Furthermore, when the Democrats have Charles Rangel (Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee) spouting off on national television this morning about how Republicans want to "exclude" 45 million people who didn't pay taxes from receiving a rebate, you really have to wonder what they're doing at both ends of Pennsylvania avenue. For all the supposed non-partisan-we're-working-hard-for-you-America tone, it sure feels like party politics are out weighing some pretty major domestic problems.

How can someone who never paid a cent in taxes be eligible for a tax rebate - excuse me Mr. Rangel, but if that's the goal for this package then let's call it what it is, welfare. I agree that many inequities still exist in America: jobs, wages, taxes - take your pick - but playing Robin Hood with funds from the IRS will not even that out... not by a long shot.

Perhaps if our legislative body would get down to actually doing some serious legislating, we might see an improvement in the Tax Code, Healthcare, and other crucial domestic issues. Whatever the approach, it will have to be more substantive than a soundbite on ABC.

Friday, January 18, 2008

TNBT - The Next Big Thing?

God help us all, with Web 2.0 still solidifying there's already (increased) talk of Web 3.0 - and 4.0. Now everything is versioned ad infinitum.

Whether it's dubbed the Killer App, Web 3.0, or just the Next Big Thing, it is looking to be a very cool application space.

Keep an eye on this in 2008!

"Open"ing up IDs

Finally, someone who's serious about OpenID - a great first step:
Yahoo!'s initial OpenID service, which will be available in public beta on January 30, enables a seamless and transparent web experience by allowing users to use their custom OpenID identifier on or to simply type in "" or "" on any site that supports OpenID 2.0. Alternatively, web sites that accept OpenID 2.0 will be able to add a simple "Sign-in with Your Yahoo! ID" button to their login pages that will make it even easier for their users.
Now if we can just find ways to splice in the social graph and access the same data consistently across sites.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Déjà Vu - All Over Again

It seems like everyone wants to crack the secret code on how to make money with Open Source. Michael Grove provides a solid reality-check:
To be a commercial success it is critical to understand and drive towards meeting the needs of your sweet spot, pragmatic customer who is looking for results, a dependable relationship and low risk.
Open Source will not magically sell any easier because there's something special about it per se, but rather because it helps properly align a software company with Michael's points above.

Having worked in the software industry for 18 years, I've seen numerous instances where a company effectively taps into a need at first... only to trip under their own momentum. The single, biggest contributing factor?

They lost touch with their customers.

Open Source may facilitate such alignment, but all the same marketing, pricing model, strategy, and execution discussions remain. And once you have that nailed, don't ever, EVER, forget who got you there -- your customers, not OSS.

Think of it as a tool, a construct: and a great one at that. However, OSS is not a business model. Keep focus on your customers and competitors, and use open source as a differentiator -- not vice versa.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Perfect Storm brewing in 2008?

I recently wrote about Software Darwinism -- why too much government control of the industry would backfire, and how OSS made for a much more (pardon the pun) natural selection process. Brian Proffitt's excellent post on Consumer Darwinism and the Rise of FOSS takes an even broader view. He asserts that with the rise of the PC:
If no one knows what computers can be used for, they decided, then we will tell the customer what they can do with them. And so they did. With operating systems, office suites, accounting programs, these software companies essentially invented the desktop PC paradigm from the ground up. And now, here we are, over 20 years later, using essentially the same paradigm to judge the worthiness of all other software.
Now, with the maturity of Linux as well as the overall open source distribution / business model... coupled with a generation of users who have grown-up with computers
"The desktop" as a paradigm is changing, to be replaced by whatever this consumer-driven market decides it wants. For too long, consumers have been told what they could do with technology. Now they are telling software vendors what they want, and are not so quick to buy into what the vendors have sold them in the past.
We've seen this happen in markets before, and nothing stands more ready to weather (and incur) such disruption than open source... Sound too much like a geek pipe-dream? Still wondering about actual market viability? Don't. Fortune provides several reasons why.

2008 may just be the year of the Perfect Storm for OSS.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

OLPC - slipping to the Dark Side?

From a purely technical perspective, the news that OLPC is in talks with Microsoft "to develop a dual-boot system to put both Linux and Windows on laptops aimed at kids in developing countries" has to be the most retarded thing I've heard in a long time.

Why would anyone create such a beautiful thing as XO, only to crap on it by jamming in any version of a Microsoft OS? Very disappointing - even with a dual boot approach. Why bother?

Stranger still is Negroponte's rationale that
Microsoft has embraced the open-source community over the past few years in a very different way than before.
The best response to which came from a comment on another blog:
Microsoft embraces the open-source community like a dog embraces a leg.
Nothing a good neutering can't correct.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Your online DNA, does Facebook hold the patent?

If I can ingest contact info from Outlook to LinkedIn, and from Gmail to Facebook... why is it "wrong" for me to carry my social graph data from Facebook to Plaxo, or anywhere else for that matter?

It's not about privacy: every user can control what data does / does not show to others, including their email addresses:

And it's not about protecting Facebook's servers. I'm sure they could accommodate the minimal load involved.

It's about revenue and nothing else. They're afraid that if it's easy for us all to switch to another site, then it can only be bad for them. How sad, and myopic. Facebook provides a lot more value than just the data they want to lock-up.

It seems that ever-prevalent-paranoid-mentality from Redmond has quickly crept into the halls at FB.