The Future of Software and Social Networks

My last few blogs have been pretty techie.  I’ve even been wondering if I should write about some messing around I’ve been doing on weekends with geometrical algorithms and the Google API. But I’m going to talk about the business side instead.  Not that I’m an expert, but paying attention to the dollar side of the industry lets you know when it’s time to ditch that job writing Pascal debuggers or graphical gopher clients, for example.

So I took a break this afternoon to attend the panel discussion at a meeting of the Canadian Financing Forum on the future of Web 2.0.  The panelists agreed to set aside the usual debate on definitions, and whether or not Web 2.0 is over, or truly really happened, and moved on to an entertaining and informative discussion.

I was looking forward to Paul Kedrosky’s moderating, but he booked in sick, and local VC Brent Holliday did a fine job standing in (assisted by a long list of questions Kedrosky sent in).  Marc Canter, founder of Macromedia, was in his usual form.  When the panel was discussing the trend of seeing high tech companies get acquired rather than go public, Canter suggested that the next IPO would be Six Apart (“because no one will buy them”).  Hey, I still use this TypePad blog, they can’t be that bad.

When the focus turned to the future of FaceBook, Canter suggested that the social network matrix will fragment into tens of thousands of vertical networks (it was a business meeting, so the terms “horizontal” and “vertical” were slung around often, and everyone in the room seemed to know what they meant), meaning you would never have to deal with a request from your boss or your Aunt Enid in Claresholm to go on your friends list.

And along with that, the sorts of interactions we go to social networks for currently, will become ubiquitous, as they end up in office software.

We’re seeing that right now with the Open Social initiative.  And we’re doing our own part to make that happen in Komodo, with code-intelligence support for the OpenSocial API in JavaScript code. The next step is to write a macro that would use the API in a way that makes sense in Komodo.  Finding something that isn’t contrived is always 90% of the battle, isn’t it?

Around ten years ago Jamie Zawinski came up with his “Law of Software Envelopment: Every program attempts to expand until it can read mail. Those programs which cannot so expand are replaced by ones which can.”  Maybe Canter’s second law (his first is apparently “Work with everything”) will require all software to eventually support social networking, or get out of the way for a newer package that can do it.

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