I like Marc Canter because he's fun, tells it like it is, and seems to be totally committed to changing the world with cool new software and ideas. It's true that the metaphor of the “lumbering Mongol horde” might not be seen, by everyone, as totally flattering – but hey, who's looking for flattery? The goal is to supervitalize our industry, and Marc's reading of what is happening really interests me. Here's what he says about the Windows Live initiative Ray Ozzie is working on.

OH MY GOD – Microsoft Live is Hailstorm 2.0 …..but in a good way. Assuming they allow us to mesh into it – and vice versa.

As I sat in the last night (near the Savoy Theater, off the Strand) – I was honored to listen to Sam Seshi rap out Microsoft’s platform. Similar to NetVibes in a lot of ways, right now is just a simple Ajaxian ‘build your own dashboard’ UI.

What I was struck with – was how similar the long term strategy is to AOL’s new AIMspace platform – which will be shipping – soon. The Microsoft stuff has all the usual stuff: Local services, favorite lists, external modules, personal pages and federated IDs. But so will AOL and Yahoo as well.

In other words – the integrated DLA platform wars have begun!

Microsoft Live is the dashboard for an entire slew of Microsoft Web 2.0 like services and applications. They have this coolio new IM based system called Live Contacts, and a comprehensive Ad Center (which would track and sell end-users behavior patterns and support By far – the coolest, newest thing Sam talked about was a Microsoft Point and Redmption system. Sam claimed Google had Google Points already, so now they had one of those – too!

What struck me on the head like a sledge hammer was that this was first time I had ever heard a Microsoft person talk about trust, openness and end-users controlling their own data! What a twlight zone moment! For someone like me to have seen the old Microsoft execute like a slow lumbering Mongol horde, destroying all in its paths, here they were – ONE MORE TIME – changing horses in mid-stream and redirecting their efforts in the way “that the wind blows”.

God dammit – that is Bill and Steve’s genius. The ability to smell the roses and head in that direction. No matter what the trend and era is. They never innovate or take the risks. But once a new direction is clear – they come storming in like a wave of Mongols.

Sam talked about a future which first got worse (with huge data silos forming in 2007) with the inevitable opening up of those data silos in 2008. That’s where our vision of destiny defers. I think we – no in fact I KNOW we can do better than that. I KNOW we can all work together – off the batt and not go through a painful era of fighting over who owns what consumer or member list.

What Sam rapped out was an elegant sophisticaed, Microsoft style integrated platform, just like he was pitching Vista or some XBox strategy. That’s exactly what AOL and Yahoo are doing – as well. They’ll all have their own DLA-like platform – and offer us ‘open modules’ to plug ourselves into.

Coolio – we like that!

I guess Kim Cameron really has had an effect there at Microsoft.

On one hand you can say “Hailstorm” is back – on the other hand it’s based upon open standards this time – RSS, OPML, microcontent, digital IDs.

What we know this time is what to demand of Microsoft (control over our own data and personas) and though Passport is still around (as the internal MS ID system) they’ve started to roll out the notion of the ‘meta-identity’ system, as propounded and developed by Kim Cameron and his team.

Julian Bond was in the audience and immediately complained “they’ll never be a LAMP version of Infocards” – but what I wanted to explain to Julian was that Microsoft is in the business of taking care of themselves, just as Yahoo, Google and AOL are – as well. So don’t expect a Linux version of anything from Microsoft, but you CAN expect meta-identity compatible ID systems for LAMP – that’s for dam sure.

For sure – each of these giants will make their own decisions, in their own due time, but at the end of the day – if they don’t open up – they’ll eventually lose their customer.

At least we have a way to connect these giant worlds together (and take us small little fry along for the ride at the same time.) That’s a huge breakthough and is the foundation of us building the distributed web infrastructure. What I’ve been chanting about is our own Open Source Infrastructure and the other kinds of open standards we need.

So it was really glorious to hear Sam’s rap last night. I came away incredibly excited and anxious to meet those folks at Mix06. I’ll have a list of requests for compatiblity with our open ‘tentacles’ which will enable us to mesh all that Vista/MS Live stuff – in with AOL and Yahoo based data and content – as well.

Just think of the beneficiaries – US! is an attempt to keep all the various formats of microcontent compatible. Our upcoming PeopleAggregator APIs will provide basic social networking capabilities – to all – and a way of inter-connecting disparate social networks into one giant distrbuted mesh.

The world of media needs standards like Media RSS and one could imagine burgeoning new standards around Tags, Reputation, Events and Musical tastes and preferences.

Clearly the strains between open and closed, BigCo vs Independents and GYM vs the rest of us has begun. Though the GYM moniker needs to include AOL and Apple too – as well. GYMAA.

But they don’t have all the options yet – either. Remember that ALL the innovation is coming from us, and we ain’t done yet. What Microsoft DIDN’T show was groups, tools or any sort of integrated media management (i.e. tie your gallery into music downloading, master playlists, shared data and tagging.)

Now the question is – how open will Microsoft Live be? Sure you can always paste a Flickr module onto one’s public page, but will we be able to read/write all the content and meta-data and move it around freely? Many in the audience were fearful and doubt Microsoft’s intentions.

Me – I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt cause as soon as they fuck up – we’ll all just drop them like a 10 ton stone. For that same reason I’m willing to give AOL and Yahoo a shot at my loyalty – too. Ideally we’d get them all playing off of each other.

So with Microsoft joining Yahoo and AOL in providing ‘open platforms’, that leaves only Apple and Google left in the GYMAA alliance. Afterall – all the Content typed into Google Base is owned by Google – right? And I’m completly positive Apple will be all open and such – right?

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Kim Cameron

Work on identity.

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