My polycomm knows me

Eric Norlin from Ping just sent me this to consider:


you walk into a conference room; dial into a con call on the polycomm; the polycomm senses your bluetooth phone and (using a discovery service) looks at your personal attribute known as “music preferences”; thus your current favorite music (by how often you listen to it) is downloaded from your “federated” mp3 player — and the hold music while you wait for your fellow con-callers is *your* favorite music.

sound a bit advanced? actually, you could (technically) do this right now with the Liberty Alliance specifications…

It's a great scenario to think through, and exposes all kinds of issues. So my plan is to start drilling into the laws of identity by examining alternative ways to implement this scenario.

For tonight, seems like I'm off to a party. Maybe two.

Going substantive

OK – I've been bloggin’ for a week and haven't written about any substantive identity issues yet. I've just been getting used to the environment, which is pretty incredible. And starting tomorrow, I will turn over a new leaf, I promise! None of this self-referential biff! boom! bah! with Marc Canter and my other friends. Except to report that he now says this (I can't help myself):

It's great to see Kim extending olive braches in the spirit of BIG BANG and distributed computing.

We gotta realize that Microsoft IS 1,000 Tornados – and maybe all those young Turks there will realize that Windows based machines WILL be connected to a distributed mesh of devices (whetehr they like it or not) – which yes – will be runing somebody ELSE's software (heaven forbid.)

In that scenario – it behooves us ALL to make sure that Microsoft is there – with Indigo, InfoCards and Users & Groups.

Gee – I hate it when Marc calls me a young turk.


Compliance testing

It's worse than I had originally thought… My weblog was (I hope it is no longer) bringing down Safari. – and then reports of this (I'm quoting here from a remarkably calm Dave Ely):

It's not just your site, butt also your feed which locks up WebKit (killing NetNewsWire). I suspect that it's something in the LDAP spec table down stream a bit.

Not my feed too! It can't be!

I don't yet know what NetNewsWire is (though it sounds really, really important), but RadioLand technical support said that although they could see nothing wrong with my blog, I should probably simplify my LDAP spec table – which, I must admit, went through several magical translations (all automated). Are the fates punishing me for my work on mapping? No, that can't be.

Getting behind the myths

I just saw Craig Burton's “A thousand tornadoes deep“. Craig has been around. We've had a hundred conversations over the years, and I truly admire his ability to see uderlying taxonomies.

Craig was the one who, a number of years ago, taught me not to prejudge Microsoft – and explained his “ten tornado” theory (he has since – I think rightly – adjusted it by two orders of magnitude).

So his vote of confidence means a lot to me:

“There are good people with vision and integrity at Microsoft. Kim Cameron is one of those people. You can't go wrong working with Kim.”

I like the wit and wicked incision in his comment that:

Each tornado (or hailstorm if you like) has its own path, thinking and objective. They seldom cross paths and are too busy dealing with the issues at hand to even talk to each other.

That, in fact, says a lot about the real Microsoft – and is much more realistic than those who talk about plots. I wish we, as a company, allowed more visibility into our nature, which is close to the one Craig describes.

Then he concludes:

Microsoft bashing aside, when two people like Marc and Kim get together and collaborate, expect good things to happen that go beyond the history of giants — even the giant of all time — Microsoft.

I look forward to seeing what they can do.

And, I have to say, I do too.

In order that this conversation on identity can go forward, I have so far edited out (or is it just that I have “not mentioned”) Craig's “one further” comment that:

“Microsoft is an unabashed bully. The leaders of Microsoft– Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer — lead the bully behaviour.”

It's so wierd. As though I had caught myself sleeping through the first half of some dream (or in fact wasn't there for it), and now that I'm in the second half, I can't quite follow the plot. In fact, maybe that's what has happened.

Although I don't know Steve and can't comment on what he's like from first hand experience, I have spent a fair amount of time with Bill. He is a remarkable and uniquely generous person, witty – a real engineer of great breadth and depth, as well as a deeply disruptive thinker. I just can't recognize him in his demonized form. (Don't get the idea we go fishing together – we don't.)

Anyway, to make a long story short, many many moons ago, Craig and Bill didn't seem to, er, really hit it off together. But I still like them both a lot.

Safari Crash in RadioLand

The good news is that within an hour of sending an email to RadioLand about the sad fate of Safari users who try to read my RadioLand blog, someone called Lawrence was back to me. The bad news is that there doesn't seem to be anything wrong:

I'll check internally with some people that use OS X/Safari to see if they can verify the problem, but there doesn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary in the page that would cause it to lockup.


I guess I'll try contacting Safari too.

Old school, new school, no school

So Marc has now concluded that at least two two of his friends (Scoble and me) from Microsoft are saying something different than what he has heard before. Then he adds:

The vibe I get is that they know they've won the old school and so now the only issue is “how do we play in the new school?”

Maybe I want to skip the new school and go to the no school. Maybe we can play there… And maybe we can just make the big bang – throwing ourselves into distributed computing and the bang itself will represent the winning.

Apologies to Macintosh Safari Users

I am getting many notes like this one from Irwin Lazar:

Just wanted to let you know that your blog causes Safari on the Macintosh to completely lock up. It seems to work fine with either IE explorer or Firefox though.

So I guess I need to find Dave Winer and find out if there's something wrong with Safari! Or find Safari and see if there is something wrong with Dave Winer! Anyway, I haven't done anything clever yet – I'm just using the RadioLand software “out of the box”. In fact I'm still on the trial version, checking it all out. It's pretty simple and I like that. I assume Radioland can explain this. I do tend to attract all the possible bugs in any piece of software. We'll see how long it takes.

The platform is cross platform

I was at the Network Applications Consortium (NAC) conference in Houston a few weeks ago and got to hear from some interesting people from both the vendor and enterprise-customer worlds. The discussion was anchored by a bunch of specific use cases prepared by the organizers. For those who don't know NAC, it is a group that theorizes identity and infrastructure issues from the customers’ point of view – without the usual analyst or vendor optics – and thus has always fascinated me.

Prior to Houston, I had spent the last year working really hard to figure out what Web Services mean for identity – and visa versa. I've concentrated completely on technology issues, not really paying attention to the way various parties have been crafting their messages and positioning their work.

So it was very interesting to hear, for example, how IBM presented the relationship between Web Services, Java and J2EE. I'm not an expert in this area, but got the impression that for IBM, Java, J2EE and their tool sets are a “one environment everywhere” cross-platform solution – with the “elasticising property” (or should I say safety valve) that if one of your partners is eccentric enough not to use the proposed solution, you can still contact ’em through Web Services.

Which was an approach fairly different from – but not incompatible with – my view of things going in to the meeting: that Web Services in and of themselves represent a new interoperable platform – albeit one which will have various incarnations (sorry for the understatement). I guess if I am right, IBM has an “interoperable platform” on top of an “interoperable platform” – something rife with possibilities for those like me who love ‘meta’ – if not also a possible candidate for investigation by the Department of Redundancy Department.

This thought led me into a satisfyingly recusive meditative tailspin, interupted by a new report from the Burton Group called “J2EE: A Standard In Jeopardy” (not apparently open source) and discussed by Jamie Lewis today. It's all fascinating. But based on nuances which are a little over my head.

You see, I have to admit that I'm just too much of a programmer dude to believe for even one second that all problems should or can be solved through a single computer language – even if it begins with the letter “J”. I must need a bios refresh – I can't shake the memory that different languages lend themselves to different problems – C#, C++, VB, Jscript, Cobol, Small Talk, Perl, Pascal, Phyton, Oberon, APL, Haskell, Mercury, Scheme, CAML and OZ – you know, that kind of thing. I mean, if the world is a matrix, how can we live without APL?

My dream incarnation of the new platform would not limit our ability to solve problems – it would push every boundary to the limit.

Flipping the encompass bit

Marc Canter's latest response to my invitation to talk about some of the WS protocols ends with this:

I just hope to hell that they (meaning Microsoft… Kim) realize fighting Linux and open source is a losing battle and that their strategy better encompass us – or else.

Paradoxical, and maybe hopeful, because that is what Web Services are supposed to do.

The professed goal is that people running open source software on Linux boxes or IBM software on whatever boxes can collaborate and interact with those running applications that work on Windows clients and servers, and visa versa all around. The emerging platform is cross-platform. Which leads to a new universe of opportunities.

Through Web Services architecture, Microsoft has committed to flipping the encompass bit.

What does it take to lose the war metaphor? Let's aim for innovations that dwarf the current zero-sum squabbling with the software equivalent of a big bang. Let's unlock the door to distributed computing. Factional fighting just slows this down.