Mike Vizard, a listening Robert Scoble, and Steve Gillmor talk Google I/O with Chris Messina. Recorded Thursday, May 29, 2008.
Gillmor: Hi, this is Steve Gillmor. Welcome to the Gillmor Gang. We’ve got some technical issues that are confounding us right now, but we are going to get started and tonight we will be talking with Robert Scoble. Welcome, Robert.
Scoble: Hey, how are you doing?
Gillmor: I’m good. And Chris Messina.
Messina: Hey, how’s it going?
Gillmor: It’s going well. Chris, what is your current title?
Messina: You know, that is sort of up in the air a little bit because I actually just this month started working for Vidoop, an OpenID provider, but primarily I guess I’m kind of an open source advocate and project manager, project lead for several projects called DiSo.
Gillmor: OK. Can you explain what DiSo is?
Messina: Sure. Well, DiSo is actually short for “distributed social” as in “distributed social networking.” And it’s a project that Steve Ivy and I started in December trying to essentially take a bunch of open source building block components for social networking and cramming them into platforms like WordPress and Drupal and Movable Type to enable social networking to happen essentially while off the social networking grid in a way, in the sense that you don’t have to rely just on Google or Facebook or MySpace to host your friends, host your identity and things like that, that it actually gives people a choice of where they do their social networking and how they do it just using open source, open protocols, open formats.
Gillmor: Sorry about that, but I’m just giving a phone number to somebody, I will be right back.
Scoble: So, what’s up man?
Messina: Not much, dude, where are you at right now?
Scoble: At home, I’m going to Cell House to work on our new show which is about the future of work.
Messina: Oh really, I hope you’re going to get some plugs in for co-working.
Scoble: Absolutely. In fact, it would be fun to do a show from a co-working facility at some point.
Gillmor: What does that mean, a co-working facility?
Messina: Coworking is basically another sort of like grassroots effort like BarCamp to create a network of independent collaborative work spaces that are sort of alternatives to cafes and aren’t as stodgy corporate as executive suites. So they have a Wiki at coworking.pbwiki.com.
And essentially people go through the same sort of open source process for starting up a physical space in common and work together. So we run a space in San Francisco called Space where we rent out desks to a number of entrepreneurs and independent workers. But we also have a space in the back that is open and free for anybody to use as long as someone is renting from us is present.
Gillmor: And, Chris, you mentioned BarCamp, weren’t you and your partner Tara Hunt the original founders of that?
Messina: Tara was actually in Toronto when we did the first BarCamp, but she was sort of watching from afar but there were — I am a cofounder of BarCamp, actually Robert was there as well sort of as a participant, but, yeah, there was about five or six of us that originally started BarCamp in Palo Alto just three years ago or so.
Gillmor: Was that over at Ross Mayfield as well?
Messina: Yeah, SocialText, that’s right.
Gillmor: I think Dave Weiner was there as well?
Messina: Yeah. Did you stop by? I can’t remember if you stopped by. I think you did.
Gillmor: Yeah, I did. I think I met you that day.
Messina: Yeah, right. That was right during the Ice Cream Social, if I remember correctly?
Gillmor: That sounds very archetypical.
Scoble: [laughs] That’s actually an incredible story about how that whole thing got started in, what was it, seven days from the time you guys got the idea to the time when hundreds of people met at the SocialText office. There was just an incredible testament to how people can organize using these new tools.
Messina: For me that’s sort of one of the moments where the ship sort of sailed in terms of what was going to happen next in the social web, because at that point I like to sort of remind people that we didn’t — YouTube hadn’t been acquired, Facebook didn’t exist, Upcoming was still independent. There are all these things that just hadn’t happened yet. In fact, Flock got its first demo there. TechCrunch got it’s start at BarCamp, Pandora had one of its first public demos.
So all these great things just came out of that single event because that’s right when I think the web started to become a real platform again and we broke the hegemony of Internet Explorer causing kind of the stagnation of the web and we started this…
Gillmor: Well, let’s not go so far there, because I think that the WHAT group and Brendan Eich and the Mozilla team had gone a long way toward breaking the hegemony of IE as well.
Messina: Well, that’s kind of what I am talking about because I got my start in Spread Firefox, so I was there really early on and feeling the pain as a web designer, web developer, working on my own and that is why I got hold of the Mozilla project to begin with. And in fact a lot of my experience that I had with Spread Firefox led directly into the way in which we approached planning BarCamp and trying to make it as open source as possible and letting other people take the model and run with it.
We kind of did the same thing with Spread Firefox where it was like this is a users campaign, this is something that we want, everyone is using Firefox — and of course I was a user — to be able to participate in some way in whatever way it makes sense. Wherever they are in the world, they should be able to do some small thing to help move Firefox forward and advance the state of the open web.
Gillmor: Now, that brings us to today. We are going to be joined by the way by Dan Farber and I believe Mike Vizard in the next few minutes. Dan is getting his car at the end of the D Conference in San Diego or Carlsbad or wherever the hell that is. And so he will be joining us to talk about — as you put it, Chris, when I ran into you at the Google I/O conference this morning — they are working on the business problems and I will let you characterize what do you see is the difference between the two events.
Messina: Yeah. I mean, again, I haven’t really followed the D Conference too much, some thing I’ve seen and followed a little bit of the conversation with like Jerry Yang and stuff and the Ballmer stuff recently and whatever. But it seems to be that there is dichotomy in these events, where on the one hand at I/O you have got a lot of the stuff and all of the people who are building the baseline technologies that will be driving the next several iterations, I guess, of the social web and then I feel like at D you have sort of the focus who are at the top level who are cracking the deals and so on that will operate on top of this social layer that is bound to emerge on the web.
And I don’t know how much there is, I don’t know if I can call it cooperation or collaboration between those levels and layers. You know the conversations that I had with people from Google at I/O suggested that the ad world, the AdSense people and those folks, sort of operate an entirely different hemisphere in terms of like cerebellum/brain distinction, blood/brain barrier whatever from the developers who are operating in sort of a different world.
So you have what I would characterize as people who want to do the right thing or creating awesome technology, embracing sort of openness and that openness helps to distribute the opportunity to build cool things in the web, versus folks who are looking at sort of extracting some sort of value or monetization value from these things that are being built.
And overall, one thing that I wonder about is I guess are we too early to really be talking about a lot of the monetization stuff. Obviously we have been waiting for the last several years to figure out how do you make money on the web, but maybe we are still not there yet, maybe there aren’t enough of the basic building block standards adopted widely enough to enable commerce to happen in a seamless enough way in a way that this is trivial as handing your credit card to someone when you go out for dinner and that’s a transaction right there.
Gillmor: Well, I would suggest that HTML still isn’t ready, and yet there’s quite a lot of monetization that’s occurring around that platform.
Messina: Fair enough.
Gillmor: So I think that monetization and innovation, they may not proceed at the same pace all the time, but they do go hand in hand.
Messina: I’m curious about what you mean by, “HTML is not ready.”
Gillmor: Well, I mean, HTML 5.0 is just now being rolled out.
Messina: How do you feel about Gears?
Gillmor: Well, this is what we want to talk about. You tell me, how do you feel about Gears? Robert and I, last night, Scoble and I, had some interesting conversations, some of which were recorded, about FriendFeed and the roll-up to, the emergence of this environment where, at least in my opinion, Twitter lies in the middle between these two very, very big and massively powerful platforms, one controlled by Google and the other is controlled by Microsoft.
And I think that Gears — I’ll let you talk and then I’ll say what I think about Gears.
Messina: OK. I’d be very interested in actually hearing that conversation. Brad Neuberg is a good friend of mine, and he’s been doing a lot of work..
Gillmor: Hang on one second. Press *4 once.
Messina: All right. Hold on a second. All right. I did that.
Gillmor: Did you do it?
Messina: Yeah, I did it.
Gillmor: OK. And just speak up a little bit, because it’s a little hard to hear you, but go ahead.
Messina: Oh, OK. Was that the magic keystroke?
So, anyway, so Brad Neuberg is a good friend of mine. He actually was the one that kind of came up with the term co-working in this iteration, this generation of it. So he and I have had conversations going back for a while, and I think Gears is a really interesting idea. The way in which he has described it to me is that it’s sort of upgrading the web as the web exists today.
So what HTML 5.0 and what Gears kind of enables us to do is to take people’s browsers as they are today, and with one simple installation, just like Flash, have an open framework for doing a lot of stuff that, for example, you can do with things like Flash or with Silverlight.
One of the things — you sort of mentioned Microsoft, and I’ve been having conversations with people from Microsoft the last couple days about Silverlight, and this is something that I complained about, actually, just over a year ago. I did this 50-minute rant about Mozilla on video; I posted it to my blog.
And one of my concerns then, and it’s still a concern today, is, what is the open answer to Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Air and those proprietary frameworks? Now, I’ve sort of gotten off the path of calling them closed systems or whatever. I mean, they’re proprietary in that single vendors get to control the direction, more or less, of where those platforms go, whereas at least with things that are developed sort of in the open, there are at least some conduits for making some change or seeing how things are being developed, seeing the players involved and what interests are driving their priorities.
Gillmor: Yeah, even though the decisions that they make are informed and, in some cases, heavily influenced by what the major platform….
Messina: Oh, they absolutely are. There’s no question about that.
Gillmor: It’s a distinction which starts to break down once you get into the real world, but go on.
Messina: Well, OK, I guess this is also the point that I made in a blog post that I put up I think last week about the battle of the future of the social web with Google’s OpenSocial platform and Facebook’s platform.
And very similar, you have big vendors driving the priorities of these platforms in which many people are going to invest heavily and create applications and stuff like that, that don’t necessarily always take into consideration the needs of the independents who are building things on these platforms.
So for example, the work that we did on the OAuth protocol took into consideration and started with the needs of Twitter and Magnolia, two fairly smaller — especially a year ago — smaller web services, websites, when you compare them to Google scale or MySpace scale, and met those needs first.
In fact, one of the use cases that we really tried to address was around running an OAuth endpoint on a shared hosting provider, as opposed to some massive-scaled architecture. And that led us to design things in a certain way and made us really focus on creating a protocol that was fairly simple, that we felt a lot of people could actually make use of, rather than just the Googles, Yahoos, Microsofts of the world.
Gillmor: OK. What’s interesting about that is that we’ve seen in recent weeks two large players, Google and Microsoft, end up supporting those technologies in ways that are going to probably, I hope, drive adoption of those technologies.
Messina: That’s absolutely right.
Messina: It’s important to know where that started from. RSS kind of came from a similar place, and obviously that got similar high-level adoption across the industry as well, so I think that people…
Gillmor: Yeah, but the politics of how it got there, you know, there are people on this call that had a lot to do with that.
Messina: I believe it. I know it. That’s part of why I bring it up.
Gillmor: Yeah, and there are people on this call that had a lot to do with this current wave of escalation of the value proposition of something that is open and at the same time has the leverage to be able to intermingle with the market force plays, so that something actually happens as opposed to being a good idea that we end up having Mark Hammond raving about and nobody else.
Messina: Doesn’t go anywhere. Yeah.
Gillmor: Not to say that Mark is wrong, just that at that point it becomes dubious whether or not it’s going to get the penetration necessary for it to be valuable.
Messina: That’s right. I mean, to be fair to the situation, if Google hadn’t gotten involved with OAuth when they did, there was absolutely no way that there would be a slide at yesterday’s keynote kicking off Google I/O with OAuth listed there alongside OpenID and OpenSocial.
And they got in at the right time, and I think we provided the right framework and structure, and we provided the right political process. And frankly, it was also sort of, I guess, a recognition that there’s very little marginal advantage in having your own proprietary authorization protocol, that more and more of the web just needs a way of doing this that works for the browser, that works for desktop applications, does it work for mobile devices?
And if developers have to support N number of authorization protocols, well, they’re just going to keep asking for users’ passwords and scraping pages, and that’s just really not the way that this stuff needs to move forward.
Gillmor: OK. I’m going to bookmark that because there was a development in the last couple of days around OpenID in terms of the leadership of that group.
Gillmor: I want to get your insight as to how meaningful that is or not. But why don’t we take a step back, and just take in the characterization of the Google I/O conference versus the D conference. And since we’re waiting for Dan to show up, who can give us more of a report from his perspective of what’s going on there, and we can balance this a little bit.
But let’s just say that for now that nothing happened in San Diego that’s even relevant to anything important. And I’m way overstating that, but just so that we can — and the flip side of that is that, I think that you would agree and I certainly do, that what we saw from Google over the last 48 hours was extremely important.
Messina: I would agree with that. I guess there are a couple of things. One is that Google has always kind of been “of the web.” And they’ve been on the open web. And the more data that’s available on the web that’s available for them to crawl and then index and then provide relevant search results on top of, provides more value to them.
So the health of the Internet greatly influences, is dictated by, and then also feeds back to the health of Google. I think that that’s actually a very positive thing. I think that Yahoo is sort of in a similar position.
What this conference and what the recent announcements — and going back even several months — suggests to me is the degree to which Google fully is in some ways trying to become… Well, I don’t know if I’d say “become.” But there’s a fascinating place right now where Google is going to become so ubiquitous and so engrained in almost every single possible solution to a problem on the web that the web and Google almost become synonymous.
Now a lot of interactive websites today utilize those Java script frameworks. And they all host them themselves. And so of course, you end up having multiple copies of these 70-100K files for every website that you visit. Well, if they’re all coming from one URL, your browser is going to be pretty good at caching it.
So, OK, on the one hand, you’ve got some performance benefits there. On the other hand, I had a conversation with someone from Google about this, there’s a very, very interesting, both beneficial and potentially evil — if not accidentally evil — aspect of this.
Gillmor: I understand the concern. But what is to prevent an aggregation of federated sites from exporting that same behavioral data?
Messina: What do you mean by that?
Messina: That’s right, more or less. I mean those web pages can say, “Call this function on this other remote server that’s not Google.” But the point is that the Java scripts include file itself, the kind of engine of this stuff is coming from a Google server.
Gillmor: I understand that. But what is to prevent, for example, these libraries being enhanced to support an output that would allow that information to be shared?
So it isn’t so much that I’m concerned about not being able to record that data and making it available to an individual or to whomever. You asked sort of what is the significance of this event. And to me, it signifies that Google wants to be on every single web page no matter how.
And not just that they want to index the open web. But they would like to be there sort of browsing alongside you when you’re looking at that web page itself. That’s an entirely…
Gillmor: Yes, but I don’t know whether that’s a real bulletin or not. I’m not shocked that there’s gambling going on, to use the “Casablanca” line. But seriously I don’t think it’s evil in actuality for Google to want to have as much granularity and fidelity in their recording of what goes on.
Messina: I agree with you. It’s right. Nor am I also saying that I’m terribly shocked by this kind of development. You know when the keynote sort of story was revealed, it was just sort of a confirmation of “OK, this is really definitely the way that they’re going. This is where they’ve been going. And everything that they do from now on is going to be moving in that direction.”
And they have done a remarkably good job, I think, of setting up the right infrastructure and the right surface area for all these different components. So if you want to host a website, where do you go? Well, you go to Google. It’s free. If you want to host an application, where do you go? You go to Google. It’s free.
And at every single level here, there’s hardly anything anymore. Well, I mean there’s probably still a few things. But there’s hardly anything from a very basic component perspective that Google is not providing in some free way.
And I talked to one of the data API product managers, or whatever, and he said, “You know what Google does is we really try to create kick-ass products that just work, that people really, really want to use. And in some ways that’s why we haven’t been so open in the past. And why we haven’t been available as much, because we’re just heads down building stuff.”
And I believe that’s true. And I don’t think that there’s any evilness in that. But what’s really interesting to me is just the degree to which I am finding, more and more, that Google is serving so many of my different needs in ways that actually solve my problems as opposed to giving lots and lots of features that I don’t even need to think about anymore.
And from the perspective of where people are going to be just sort of absent-mindedly setting up shop, and making use of infrastructure, it seems, more and more, that it’ll be Google. I don’t see Yahoo, for example, providing the same sorts of open, basic infrastructure for people to make us of. I don’t see that at all.
Gillmor: I personally think that Yahoo is road kill. But I think that what Microsoft is doing, I don’t necessarily think is a lot different, particularly with Mesh.
Messina: Yeah, I was going to ask you about that. You sort of made this point about Twitter being at the center here, and then Google and Microsoft sort of flanking it. And I’m very curious, because I’ve been watching some of this stuff that Microsoft’s been doing.
And I’ve seen sort of their Mesh stuff. And I find that stuff to be very interesting even though I feel like it’s still kind of living in kind of a previous generation paradigm, where they talk a lot about folders and devices, which is pretty much…
Gillmor: First of all, Microsoft is undergoing a tremendous culmination of the dividing line default that has opened up largely with Google’s help between the Office and Windows group on the one side and the movement toward the web, which…
Messina: Yeah, the Ray Ozzie DNA hasn’t exactly taken over all the generations yet.
Gillmor: I’m not so sure that that’s true, actually. I think that it’s not Ray Ozzie’s DNA, it’s Scott Guthrie’s DNA that I think has taken over in large part. Most of the development, UI testing, you know, the various kinds of things from the Visual Studio perspective, have been sort of inoculated or corrupted, if you have a different perspective of it, in terms of their strategies.
When you say that Mesh is about devices and — what was the other?
Gillmor: Right. I think that’s true, because they exist. Those are the current demarcations along which the so-called “Mesh” is enabled.
But to me the power of Mesh is about virtual devices, and virtual devices, it’s like an object that can be created and defined according to what the dynamics of that object are. And I think that what Mesh will allow them to do is to abstract out the devices from the equation.
Messina: Yeah. Yeah.
Vizard: I guess one of the things that I would worry about, and this is Mike Vizard now, it just feels like, for all the talk of Microsoft, they’re not as accessible as Google. The development conference this week kind of proved that Google’s going out of its way to make itself more accessible, and people are listening.
Microsoft feels like there’s still a one-to-many relationship where they’re sending out these messages, but somehow or other it doesn’t feel like people are connecting back and actually doing something and leveraging that. They’re listening, but you know, I don’t see the level of activity.
Gillmor: I think that that’s certainly been true historically, and I think that they have a large hill to climb to be taken seriously, but I think that it doesn’t follow just because Google’s doing the right things that Microsoft isn’t.
I think that there’s much too much made of the old Microsoft, and for that matter, the old Google — the “we don’t do evil” Google — moving into a situation where, as Chris points out, what they’re doing that is certainly not evil has ramifications that could be used for evil.
That’s a different paradigm, and I think that both of these clouds have fundamental characteristics which are more open than closed, and they’re more viral than brute market-force approach. And I think that they are more natural allies than I think people realize.
Vizard: You know, that might be. I’m just pointing out that Microsoft has to find a way to get down to the grassroots and get down to the people who are actually building stuff, because it is becoming just simpler to put stuff up on Google or use their widgets and just kind of fall into their cloud than it is to try to figure out, where is the entry point to the Microsoft cloud.
Messina: One thing that I would ask though, is one of the things that I have seen that’s very different about the two camps, and it almost comes down to Republican and Democrat lines in the way in which they actually operate, is that I believe that there is more or less a Church of Microsoft, and within that church it’s very hard to leave, but once you’re in you get lots of support.
In having conversations with developers the last two days, there is this sense that Microsoft has always done well in providing for its developers and being very, I guess, available for folks who drink the kool-aid and who build within the Microsoft ecosystem.
The problem with that is, when you get to the open web, you’re now dealing with disparate systems and heterogeneous systems that need common protocol APIs to talk to one another, and Microsoft has historically been fairly reserved about what level of surface area they expose to non-close parties and partners.
Gillmor: That’s true, but let me turn the tables on that argument for a second.
Gillmor: First of all, the entire web was bootstrapped as a result of Microsoft and Windows, I believe Windows for Workgroups or whatever it was, so it was certainly a feat supporting TCP/IP. That’s what set this whole thing in motion.
Messina: But was that intentional, or was that accidental?
Gillmor: Of course it was intentional. The idea that Microsoft wasn’t hip to what the Internet could do for it is laughable. I mean, they had their own private Internet for 10 years before the Internet.
Messina: Yeah, MSN and all that stuff.
Gillmor: Yeah. So that’s one point, just to make an oppositional point on that side. On the other side you see, one of the most significant announcements that I saw at Google I/O was the Toolkit.
Messina: The Web Toolkit.
Gillmor: What? The Web Toolkit.
Messina: Yeah, the GWT.
Gillmor: Yeah, which is a straight-ahead enterprise shot to the Visual Studio model.
Messina: That’s right.
Messina: Yeah, I would agree with that. I need to look more deeply at the changes in this new version, but I would agree that the Google Web Toolkit and Gears and all those things that they’re doing are hugely important.
And there’s absolutely, I think, something important about looking at the comparison with Visual Studio and things like that because you’ve got programmers all over the world who have a certain mindset towards development, and if Google can tap into that mindset and give them a very easy switch that then allows them to also have distribution immediately through OpenSocial, it becomes very compelling. As opposed to having to go through the old-fashioned native application route for distribution, getting people to download something, installing it, blah, blah, blah. And then once you install it, well of course, today people are expecting social interactions, so if you don’t have that in your native app, already you’re behind.
So that’s critical. I also wonder, just quickly, well, all right, go ahead. Go ahead.
Vizard: You could argue that Microsoft is the house that developers built, so the question is, are the developers starting to leave the house and go live over in Google, and to what degree?
Messina: But it is a different generation of developers, though, who grew up on the web, or who at least are web-savvy, or using the web for all these different things who are finding that their tools that Microsoft provided them no longer fit that paradigm and that model, that the way development is done, or the way development used to be done, no longer is really compatible with the way things are being done today.
The innovation that I see coming out of just independent web shops seems to just blow by so much of the stuff that used to be able to be done only on the desktop as native applications. So with Google Web Toolkit, that even lowers the barrier and creates a more consistent user experience that’s leveraged through the browser.
With Gears, now you’re actually having essentially the rendering in it is being upgraded in place, so people don’t have to wait for IE 9.0 and Firefox 4.0. And those things are huge in terms of where you want to be investing in building your applications, because those things are also — and I like to point this out — is that you build to the web, and now you have people who can use it on their mobile devices, on their set-top boxes, on their Wiis, and all that stuff.
Gillmor: Which is what gets to the most disruptive aspect of the announcements yesterday and this is like most in five heavily disruptive announcements, the Android stuff.
Gillmor: I mean Android, the target platform there is really WebKit.
Messina: Yeah and that is what I pointed out a while ago and that was actually also one of my primary points when I ran to Mozilla a year ago. It’s like, look, your competition right now is going to be WebKit because WebKit is showing up in Android, it is showing up in AIR, it is somewhere else they are going to be — oh, Dreamweaver which is Adobe of course — so that is the whole AIR thing. Dreamweaver is now going to use WebKit inside if hadn’t already and the Wii I think, is it the Wii that uses it?
Anyways, WebKit is becoming the de facto thing not only on the iPhone, but generally speaking it is a much more able, more nimble platform, and Mozilla really doesn’t even have a mobile story right now. They talked about going big into this many months ago, but we haven’t really seen anything that is solid. And essentially Google has eclipsed the place that I felt Mozilla should have been really operating.
And you’re kind of wondering, OK, so Firefox 3.0 comes out, a very capable browser, obliviously they’ve made a lot of improvements in terms of performance, but in terms of thinking about where the browser needs to go or what the future of the browser is to enable a wider more diverse ecosystem, I haven’t seen…
One of the complaints that I had about Mozilla when I was much more involved in the project was that Microsoft actually, again, did a much better job of talking to and supporting both its developers but its platform people, people that built on top of the platform.
Mozilla hasn’t historically done such great job of actually reaching out to folks like Schoenberg — and of course I know the story of Flock and groups like that — to say, “Hey, what can we do to make this a better platform for you to build on? How can we help you? What kind of patches do you need worked on?” And I think that that’s really been a loss.
Gillmor: Well, the danger from my perspective is the degree to which the WHAT group is losing its ability to normalize across the three platforms. I mean the strength of the WHAT group was not just that they developed — that Mozilla developed — a stub to stub out the IE functionality and be able to build on top of that, but it also was supported by the Safari team. So it appears to be danger of diversions between Safari, WebKit and Mozilla which is going to create some problems.
Messina: But the interesting thing there is that WebKit is actually adopting more of sort of the forward-facing CSS3 and recommendation that haven’t really even gone through a lot of the review process I think to make WebKit a more capable platform for whether it is RA development for just building rich Internet type of services and application.
I mean I don’t know if you have seen it, but there is an application for the Mac called Fluid which allows you to generate what are called type-specific browsers. So essentially they load up a single URL and they just get rid of all the browser chrome. This is great for applications like Gmail and stuff like that.
So you have all these weird fragmented ways of upgrading the web in place and you wonder, is it going to be what working group, is it going to be HTML 5, is it going to be Gears, is it going to be something that Firefox comes up with, is it going to be Browser Plus stuff.
Gillmor: Well, I mean I think history shows that what it is going to be is going to be a combination that’s going to be some sort of a middle version that becomes the ubiquitous thing that everybody writes to. It seems to me that Safari and WebKit are going to move well ahead in the mobile space and the only problem for them is going to be Microsoft with Windows Mobile. I think the announcements, what they showed of Android, it convinced that System 60, Symbian 60 and all of that kind of stuff is toast.
Gillmor: And so I think that has huge implications for Motorola and for Nokia, but less so for the Microsoft devices.
Vizard: Well, Microsoft Windows Mobile is starting to gain a lot of share, but you also see the telco carriers trying to run over to Linux, so they are trying to hide around open source, so then if that clicks around Android…
Gillmor: Yeah and that is why I think Android is going to be a real problem for the carriers. That is going to manifest itself, I think, a lot quicker than people realize, mostly because what they are doing is they are creating a look and feel environment that isn’t competitive directly but is additive and complementary to the iPhone. So they’re essentially creating a standards base around that kind of functionality that is going to be difficult for the other vendors to differentiate against and it’s going to mean bad news for them.
With Android, we get there as well, but now we have an entirely open source stack and again it is powered with WebKit, so if you invested in sort of like the first generation of iPhone apps and made it work with WebKit, ideally with maybe a little bit of testing, you’d be able to launch on the Android platform with hardly any extra additional investment. And so businesses I think really benefit from that type of standardization on that rendering agent.
So one of the other things that has been interesting is talking to the Gears guys, they’ve really actually considered making WebKit a plugin for Internet Explorer. So you just route around the whole problem and you have one universal rendering engine that allows you to make use of the latest greatest technologies for the next several years because people are using Gears to upgrade their browser without having to worry about all the other stuff that goes along with it.
Scoble: Steve, this is Robert Scoble, I got to take off the call, it has been real interesting, thanks.
Gillmor: Thanks, Robert.
Vizard: This feels like the carriers though will do their level best to create a delaying action. So I don’t know, I mean I agree that maybe Google and Android will take over the world one day, but it feels like to me that carriers, every time they talk about what they are doing and they still have control over the devices, they will find a delaying action that will extend…
Gillmor: I think they have been fighting the delaying action, but I think the iPhone has opened one of the carriers and it has created a domino effect. And what is happening with Android is significantly more advanced than I, for one, had any clue about. And what it’ss going to do is it is going to create essentially iPhone, Gphone, and I use Gphone only not as a product but as basically just an Android.
There is an alliance there which is centered around WebKit, so Apple is in the driver’s seat there in terms of what I expect to be — if you take a look at the number of clicks on the web that came out of the iPhone launch, which was a factor of 50 times what was expected, and then you fold in Android phones, which will have a similar characteristic, because this thing is built for the web and in some ways better than the iPhone is currently. You’ve got a market share that is going to be, especially on the transaction side, is going to be 30-40%.
Messina: You wonder if that is a great way for them to sort of like route around the whole Mozilla story, which I still think is a real threat to Firefox’s model of success so far. I mean Firebox has done great on the desktop, but when it comes down to it, if you leverage a WebKit browser and now you start looking at referral logs and you got Android phones and you got the iPhone — I mean Android doesn’t have distribution yet, it doesn’t have a lot of handsets that it is compatible with, but give it time and by and large, I think you are going to see a lot more WebKit traffic just across the web.
Steve: I think as long as Mozilla and Firefox continue to play a game of absorption that they will be in no danger of losing anything.
Messina: What do you mean by absorption?
Gillmor: You know basically what they did with IE was to suck it in.
Messina: Well, yeah.
Gillmor: And write on top of it. And I think that I don’t see any reason why they can’t do this with what’s going on with WebKit.
Messina: Yeah, and I had a conversation with them about this the other day as well. And in terms of innovation, Mozilla has historically been really good at commoditizing the feature sets. Or at least solving bugs that other platforms didn’t want to fix. For example the malware problem, ActiveX in IE performance, not having tabs which Netscape 7.0 had before and so on and so forth.
So in terms of innovation if Firefox 3.0′s most awesome feature is literally the awesome bar, maybe their role is as you suggest is the absorption role. Which is to make open source what is not accessible within other platforms that are less open or what have you.
Gillmor: Right. And that’s why the only thing that I was going to semi-push back on that you said so far is about the role of Gears. I think Gears has got tremendous assets in, as you say, upgrading in place.
Gillmor: I think that the difficulty that it’s going to have is that it is a point solution for a much more pervasive issue. Which is that persistence on the client is not exactly a game changer in a world where the browser wars become irrelevant and we move up beyond that to essentially the runtime wars. Which is what Silverlight is.
Messina: Yeah. But at the same time if you imagine that the open web runtime is WebKit plus Gears. And WebKit plus Gears becomes a plugin for whatever other browser is out there, then that becomes a lot more compelling. Because as a web shop or as a website provider, web service provider, again I only need to write my website once to work with the WebKit rendering engine. And I never have to worry about it again.
As opposed to again having to deal with all the weird idiosyncrasies across all the different browsers. I mean there’s very little marginal value now in having…
Gillmor: But if you abstract out the so-called device layer, which is what Mesh is, then the issue of writing to a device farm becomes irrelevant.
Messina: That’s true.
The problem with that is that they don’t have a contract with users and they’re going to have to establish that. And they have to be careful about that and it’s going to take them some time. And it’s going to take some alliances with clouds that are going to emerge. In other words, large affinity groups that are going to give that consent.
Microsoft, through Mesh, has an opportunity to step right into the middle of that from a development perspective. And that is something that I don’t think you see in the current model. Google is suffering a little bit from having an installed base that they have to bring along. It’s oddly a kind of a Microsoft problem that they have in reverse.
Whereas Microsoft, if they reboot around Mesh and abstract out the device layer, then they have an opportunity to be able to come in with a clean open social mechanism. And basically have that be used by developers to be able to construct these sites, which will work just fine with the Friend Connect model.
Messina: Yeah, you know, so that brings up sort of another thing that we haven’t discussed yet and that’s this potential open sourcing of the Facebook platform. And whether or not there’s any significance to that at all.
Somebody who I talked to at I/O today sort of suggested that open sourcing the Facebook platform is really good for Microsoft. Because Microsoft’s going to sell all these servers on which you’ll have a one click install like you have with WordPress today for the Facebook platform. You know, “Oh, you want the Facebook platform? Great. Click install.”
And I wonder if that’s actually at all significant, if it makes any difference at all. Because I just don’t see a lot of people needing to run the Facebook platform. Some people might. There’s the High-five and there’s those folks of the world, but for the most part I kind of feel like Drupal and WordPress solve the independent problem. Who actually has the resources to run a Facebook-size initiative with the way that Facebook runs it? Is there a benefit to that?
Vizard: But couldn’t you come up with smaller implementations of Facebook — it doesn’t have to be the size of that — aimed at specific vertical things. Like I could create a Facebook for a work environment, right?
Gillmor: Yeah. That’s exactly what Google’s trying to do with Friend Connect is basically break out those fundamentals so that they can be constructed more simply by a smaller organization. And Facebook doesn’t want them to do.
Messina: That’s what I’m doing with DiSo essentially. It’s like taking some basic protocols and formats and allowing you to host your friends list basically wherever you want to, on your own server or on Facebook or what have you.
But if I’m building a brand new application and I’ve got developers that can do Jango or Rails or are comfortable with WordPress, why would I inherit all of the assumptions that are built into Facebook that might not actually work for my problem? I mean maybe I really do just want the Friend Connect stuff which is just friends. Maybe I just want to be able to send stuff out as an action stream, but I don’t need the entire Facebook platform.
And obviously a lot of this is contingent upon seeing the code, seeing how they’ve architected it, seeing what parts are going to be useful for what problems.
Gillmor: So again, to me this ignores the opportunity that Microsoft has with Mesh which is to come in — I mean if you look at the Mesh architecture it’s basically..
Messina: That’s what I’m asking about.
Gillmor: It’s an atomized construction kit for a Facebook-like environment.
Gillmor: Right? And they do have a relationship with them that’s very successful so far. So what’s to prevent them releasing for Microsoft developers a toolkit that uses Mesh as the platform to be able to create smaller vertical versions of Facebook? Nothing.
Messina: Yeah. That’s right.
Vizard: Somebody should say that’s what they’re doing, because it’s a good idea.
Messina: Maybe that’s what they should do.
Gillmor: As always, we’re going to tell them now and then they’re going to agree with us at some point.
Messina: Yeah, three months later.
Gillmor: Well, three months is the Olympics and then the convention. So Silverlight’s going to be on 100 million desktops in three months, so…
Messina: Oh, god. I’m so not a Silverlight fan.
Gillmor: Yeah, well, so what?
Messina: Yeah, I know. Big deal. Exactly, exactly. It’s Windows Media upgraded or something.
Gillmor: You know, somebody in the chat room, Jim Posner in the chat room, says that as long as it has Microsoft having something to do with it, it’s going to be gated. I really don’t think that that’s true. I think that with so many other gating factors like Yahoo, for example. Talk about gated. They’re like gated and it’s locked and they threw the key away.
All right, so who else is there in this community that’s going to be — I mean do you think that Adobe is going to suddenly sprout wings and with all of their revenue from all of their products like Photoshop. Do you think Photoshop’s going to take over the web? I don’t think so.
Messina: Yeah. They’ve been sadly missing from a lot of the conversations that have been going on around this stuff. I mean, Adobe historically also hasn’t really been a social platform. They build a lot of tools and they make money selling stuff that works in — at least previously and even currently — proprietary formats.
So you can’t really open an InDesign file in a lot of other stuff. It’s not PDF compatible or whatever. And Illustrator files are also off on their own.
It is interesting, though, to think about the nature of AIR and that platform, and Silverlight and that platform, and the nature of the open web. There are a lot of competing things for the open web. In some ways, that competition, again, goes back to that strange analogy with Democrats or Republicans. You have all this choice on the democratic open web, but you have all this choice of a democratic and open web. So what do you choose? Well, if you want to be able to standardize the one thing, then you will go towards just Silverlight or towards AIR, because it’s a single thing.
Gillmor: I don’t necessarily think it’s true. The history of what happened with the browser wars being ended was an abstraction layer that nullified the distinctions between them. Let me finish the thought, Mike. There’s no reason why that won’t happen with these runtimes.
Messina: Good. Then I’m happy.
Gillmor: Go ahead, Mike.
Vizard: There are also a lot of people, though, that aren’t as adventurous as you are. Going back to Facebook and the Mesh model, they want something that’s already been tested and ironed out, and where the issues have been dealt with. They want something that’s less risky in their minds than what you want to do, where you go out and pull together the different components.
Gillmor: No. Don’t pigeonhole me as wanting to be adventurous, here. I’m talking about what’s going to happen, not something that’s going to involve heavy lifting. We’re all talking about the same thing. There are two platforms, right now, that have achieved the kind of critical mass, whether it’s an obvious coalition of partners like in the open space, or a not-so-obvious coalition with Apple, Microsoft, and the so-called commercial platforms that are, if not in the same company, then operating in parallel to each other. They’re creating the standard here.
Bill Gates said this three or four months ago. The difference between Mesh, between Silverlight and AIR is nonexistent. They’re both runtimes. They both take approximately twelve seconds to download on a high-bandwidth connection, and that’s once. Once you’ve got them, whatever runtime is being called, it’s a MIME type. Who cares? The user certainly doesn’t.
Gillmor: We’re talking about 160 gigabyte hard drives being given away for free.
Messina: It’s not that simple, though, because you also have to look at what formats are taking off of the open web. From a Google perspective, that’s significant. So who can actually index all the Silverlight content that’s going to come out of the Olympics? Who? Well, the people who can get inside Silverlight. That creates a very interesting compelling interest for Microsoft, or Microsoft/Yahoo, or whatever. Google won’t be able to…
Gillmor: If you believe that that is what’s going to win. Do you really think that Microsoft’s going to win by locking up, as Robert Scoble suggested a few weeks ago, a walled garden approach and then building that out?
Messina: No. It would just be a really unfortunate thing.
Gillmor: It would be. Not only would it be unfortunate, it would be massively stupid. And there’s no indication of anybody except the Office and Windows groups who are about to put this into a large container and throw food in from the top.
Messina: I hope so. I went up to Seattle with a bunch of other folks to basically be pitched by Microsoft. We were their vocal critics. And they wanted to tell us about their open strategies and their technologies and then have a dialogue and a discussion. One of the people that presented — I hope I can talk about this stuff. I won’t go into too much detail, but one of them was from a three-letter TV network. I don’t know if they have exclusive rights, but they’re broadcasting the Olympic content through Silverlight.
Gillmor: They announced that three months ago, publicly.
Messina: Good, so that’s all out there in the open.
Gillmor: This is why there are going to be a hundred million clients.
Messina: Exactly. That is precisely what this person said. And they said it doesn’t matter if people don’t have it or not. They’re going to download it and install it, and that’s how we’re going to get Silverlight out there into the world. A hundred million people are going to have their eyeballs trained on China and the Olympics. They want to see this content and will do whatever it takes to do it. The way which we get them to do it is no different than Apple using the iTunes distribution system on Windows.
Man 2: Or Google using free Gmail, in order to be able to get everybody on Gmail.
Messina: Sure. There are all these different ways of getting stuff out there. My point, though, is more around the fact that this is the very plausible strategy for content locking moving forward in the future. They can have extremely tight control over the experience that people have.
Gillmor: They can, but that’s exactly…
Messina: They will.
Gillmor: No, they won’t. That’s a misunderstanding of what is good for them.
Messina: I agree.
Gillmor: Half the company thinks that that’s what they’re going to do. That half of the company is going to be out.
Messina: I’ve been betting on the other side of open content and access and things like that.
Gillmor: Right, because it wins, and it continues to win. Microsoft is not going to win with a closed garden approach. There is a large audience out there which, among other things, is looking for parity between two major clouds. The only way you can guarantee this Holy Grail of data portability is if you have something to port it to.
Messina: That’s right, and you maintain fidelity.
Gillmor: That’s right. They need each other. They’re basically partners in this effort.
Messina: It’s so strange to hear that rhetoric from the groups deeply embedded and wedded to the closed way of doing things. We ask questions. Obviously, a lot of us are open content and open source enthusiasts at this event. We’re like, “So, what if I don’t want to install this layer? What about this? What about that? How do we get this content otherwise? What if we want to repurpose it?”
They’re like, “Well, we toyed with the idea of having low-bandwidth, low-quality streams for people who don’t want to get Silverlight, but basically, everyone’s going to get Silverlight.” I just have such an allergic reaction to that type of mentality. It still is alive and ticking within Microsoft.
Gillmor: I understand that there are religious issues here, but the religion, at the end of the day, comes down to the fact that I can watch the Olympics over here, and I can get my free email and my free Office here. I don’t have to pay either of them for this. All I have to do is vote with my behavior on both platforms? Cool.
This is not a zero-sum game. For Microsoft, it’s a huge win, because they’ve lost 90% of the web to these other guys. They have to cut back, and it will not work. They’ve trained an entire user base to not trust them. Do you still think they’re going to get Mick Jagger to sing a song, and it’s all going to go away?
Messina: If they had Bono, they’d have a shot.
Gillmor: No, they don’t. [laughs]
Messina: Just kidding. Actually, I think it’s funny to see. I had a conversation with one of the Microsoft guys who’s around the “New York Times” reader thing — the Times Reader or whatever it’s called — that they launched in beta for the Mac, which is a Silverlight application. I had technical problems getting it installed. I use Webkit; they don’t support it.
But the amount of vitriol from everybody else in the comment pool about, “Oh my God, if it’s Microsoft, I’m not touching it. ” All these different things, which is so interesting.
I think you’re right, that there’s this allergy towards anything Microsoft, especially when it comes to the web. Don’t control my web. Don’t screw this up for me. Historically, every time I interact with a Microsoft product on my Mac or whatever, it’s this terrible experience. It’s going to be really interesting, I think, if they are able to change their mentality to me much more within the Mesh framework of seeing the web is this open ecosystem that has inputs and outputs where you need open formats and protocols to do this kind of interchange, and that actually that is the way in which you increase the entire pie, then I think the new improved Microsoft might stand that chance that you talk about.
Gillmor: You know I went to a private briefing for Mesh and first they said, “OK what’s your Hotmail account?” I said, “I don’t have one.” They said, “Well…”
Messina: Did their eyes drop out of their heads?
Gillmor: So then they said, “Well, OK, so we will sign you up for this.” And I said, “Why, does it work on the Mac?” And they said, “Well, it will soon.” And I said, “No, no, does it work on the Mac?” And then I said, “Doesn’t it run on SilverLight?” Oh, right, “OK, so it works on the Mac all ready right?” And you got this web page which is like, it is HTML and Java, right? “OK, so it works on the Mac, right?” And they said “Yeah.”
So it turns out that the day of this briefing, I don’t know whether they have fixed this or released something that will work on the Mac directly as a native thing, I couldn’t sign up for this. So I said, “Well, no thanks.” And so literally they said, “Look, here we’ll use this PC, you just type your password, right?”
And so all I had to do was to type three letters or whatever and hit send, you know, click. And from then on it works on the Mac. And in a month, it’s going to all work on the Mac. At that point, this is a platform that I’m interested in. If it doesn’t work on the Mac, I don’t care. They can talk about synchronizing PCs until they’re blue in the face, I don’t care because I don’t have any.
Messina: Yeah, that was the funny thing that when they came away from this event, which was a very nice event, they brought us up, they introduced us to Sam Ramji and a bunch of like very interesting and passionate Microsoft people. I left after three days of hearing about everything they are doing, more convinced that Microsoft is completely irrelevant to my future than I had been before I showed up.
And it is just so complete, the degree to which one, they really don’t seem to understand the social web and they don’t seem to really — when they talk about open source, open source is good for them and they want to embrace open source and stuff, it feels like they want to embrace it in this Russian bear hug until they..
Gillmor: I think you’re talking to the guys that are on the descendancy inside the company.
Messina: Well, I mean, Sam Ramji is a good guy; I like him.
Gillmor: I’m not disputing that there are people that say and think and believe that, I just think that they are quickly — within 30 days of Gates leaving the building — they are not going to have a sponsor at the company.
Messina: Interesting, yeah, yeah.
Gillmor: And there are going to be people at the company who understand if we can build this platform so that not only does it work on “the Mac” but it also works on Windows, we are all going to be OK. Now that’s an abstraction of what the real calculation is, but it’s good enough for me. If they can virtualize devices to the point where they are relevant, which is what this platform suggests is that it is all Atom and RSS feeds, that is the whole thing, social graph is an RSS feed, the identify stream is an RSS feed etcetera, etcetera. These are just transports for an atomization of this new architecture. That is a very powerful model.
Messina: Yeah, I agree. I mean if they can do that, then there is that chance of actual longer-term competition with Google.
Gillmor: Or cooperation with Google.
Messina: Possibly, I mean that would be, I think..
Gillmor: I mean who are the losers, think about who the losers are if those two are successful? Sun?
Messina: Yeah. Where does IBM and those guys fit into all this stuff?
Gillmor: Well, IBM has a services deal that they just negotiated with Google, so they are pretty good at hedging their bets, they have been for a long time.
Gillmor: Mike Vizard, are you there?
Gillmor: All right, so who are the losers?
Vizard: From the movement to Google and Microsoft?
Gillmor: Yeah, Google and Microsoft as basically creating a detente between these two platforms, much like the wall comes down and all of a sudden the Hillary camp starts making nice to the Obama camp because we are all running against McCain.
Vizard: Well, then I would say all these guys who are pushing their own version of Eclipse, whether it is IBM or any other company, would become extremely marginalized over time.
Gillmor: That’s not what I saw at the Google I/O conference. They showed a version of Eclipse with the WebKit, the web toolkit, basically creating web pages that looked a whole lot like something Scott Guthrie is doing over there with ASP.NET.
Vizard: But I’ll get that through Google and I won’t need to deal with IBM or any of these other companies.
Gillmor: Well, that’s a good point. Basically the power — I mean the name Eclipse is derived from a snarky takedown by Bob Souter and his friends, of Sun. So that dynamic, which is like IBM saying, “We wrote 90% of J2E, so we want to own Java.” That somehow didn’t happen. But does Sun own Java anymore? I don’t think so.
Vizard: No, so the issue all these guys will have is that everybody will be accessing these technologies through Google Prism and essentially they will all be subcontractors to whatever Google ultimately…
Gillmor: OK. Where are the other players, Oracle, how are they affected by this?
Vizard: Oracle has the same problem, they have databases but they want you to use their tools to build applications around it, but people won’t use those tools, they’ll gravitate towards…
Gillmor: I don’t think you are predicting that Oracle is going to be marginalized by a Google/Microsoft Web 2.0 build app.
Vizard: Yeah, I think you will see more people using Web 2.0 toolkits whether they are from Google or wherever else to build applications around Oracle database and they won’t be as dependent upon tools Oracle wants in these.
Messina: Well the question too around sort of like the Oracle architecture of databases is, is it compatible with the web model of data access where relational database seem to be not scaling well with the way in which Web 2.0 is stressing these kind of databases. I mean Twitter is kind of a good example of this.
And I have no technical knowledge of really Oracle and things like that, but in terms of future-roofing their stuff making their stuff more cloud compatible, is Oracle and Amazon, is there parity between their platforms or are you just going to look at database lookups and calls as just other web services that you leverage as opposed to running your own database.
Vizard: Right. And then that model where they look at something whether it is Oracle or DB2 and go and say, hey you know, that is too much overkill and it is too hard to run, and so I am going to go with OpenSQL or I might even go with Microsoft SQL Server because it’ss at least lower cost, so the issue will be if you don’t own the toolkits, you don’t own the developers, is the whole thing going to get marginalized.
Gillmor: All right, Jim Posner in the chat room says that Google has no traction in the Eclipse space, that Google is not a tool vendor. Well that may be true but what we saw yesterday was a real shot across the bow of three large constituencies. The carriers with Android, I would suggest that IBM, and whoever is the keeper of the flame of Java — which I would say is Sun to some extent, IBM to a larger extent — all of a sudden, there is going to a fairly large force of developers who are going to move over and are going to be basically able to work in both camps across the Visual Studio environment on the one hand and the Eclipse environment on the other. The power base around Eclipse is going to shift.
Messina: That would be interesting.
Gillmor: The third thing is — what was the first announcement of the conference yesterday?
Messina: I wasn’t following it in chronological order.
Gillmor: OK. Well what were the things that you remember? There was the OpenSocial, OAuth, the OpenID. The Friend Connect stuff — that was last.
Messina: Yeah. That was last. Well, there was the Ajax library stuff and…-
Vizard: There was the Google –wasn’t there the engine?
Gillmor: An app engine was basically the rollout of the pricing. Right? OK.
Messina: And opening that up to anybody.
Gillmor: Right. So if you’re using the traditional development environment, aka Eclipse, then you can write to the app engine that way.
Gillmor: If you’re using a distributive social media platform, then you’ve got the beginnings of a story. But they’ve got a long way to go in terms of capturing the relationship with the user, where I think that Mesh has got a quicker story.
Messina: With the relationship with the user?
Gillmor: Yes, absolutely. As I said before, remember what I said at the beginning, which was that Twitter is in the middle.
Messina: Yeah, yeah.
Gillmor: OK. Who’s going to capture the communication stream in the middle? I mean the last big war about that was the messaging Y2K crisis. At that point it was Microsoft versus Lotus, which was IBM.
OK? So who is it this time? It’s Google versus Microsoft. Right? I don’t think either of them is going to win. I think that Twitter is going to remain transcendent in the middle, by being an arbiter of the lowest common denominator. They are going to be the bridge between these two platforms.
Messina: Well, is that the point of Jabber and XMPP then?
Gillmor: Absolutely. Totally.
Vizard: I would just leave some room in that analysis for an unknown third player just yet.
Gillmor: Yeah, maybe. I don’t think there’s time for a third player. What we are seeing with Twitter is that they’ve got basically 48 hours now to be able to make the case that they can return Track to the toolkit, because the one fundamental value proposition from an intellectual property perspective is Track.
We can argue about whether I’m right or not, but let’s say I am. That’s the only distinguishing factor between Twitter and any other messaging system that has a public and private thoroughfare over which these objects are traveling.
Messina: You say that primarily because Twitter is in the middle and they are able to see and have visibility into the entire message stream and therefore they can do the Track?
Gillmor: They are — yes, that is the core. The two million users, yes, they are early adopters. Yes, they are tire kickers. Yes, they are blah, blah, blah. You know, they are edgelings, whatever you want to pigeonhole them as, they are also responsible for a large part of the social media adoption curve.
And that’s where the money is, is in those ontologies. The descriptions of those social graphs are far more significant than the Facebook one. Facebook is going to be a player for the Twitter hierarchy.
Messina: That’s also interesting because Joseph Smarr presented today on OpenID, OAuth, and OpenSocial, piecing these things together. One of the things that he brought up in one of his last slides was the role of, you’ve got identity providers. You’ve got content aggregators. Then what he said, and he has said before, is you have a social graph provider.
So you think it’s also the case where there will be this third role for an organization to essentially I guess outsource your social graph to your friend connections too?
I mean, obviously that’s [indecipherable] bet. We will be the best host of your friend list and make it as portable as possible so you can get your friends wherever you want to.
Gillmor: Yeah, but a dynamic friend list is going to be what the war is about.
Messina: Well, that’s what XMPP offers.
Gillmor: Totally. That’s why I use Track as a metaphor for the single most defensible IP that Twitter has. And they have it right now. And the only way they will lose that is by being opaque and arrogant. I don’t see any sign that they’re going to do either.
They are making it very clear that they are going to try and get this feature back turned on as soon as possible. I think they’ve got big trouble turning that on because what I’m trying to do, and there are others with this whole conversation about FriendFeed and Twitter and all that bullshit is to basically incent enough Track usage to force them to come up with a scalable environment to deal with it.
If they don’t, guess what Mesh is? Mesh atomizes — the first vector in that is identity. The second vector is so-called news. The third one is so-called affinity, influence, the Olaf side if you look at it from the Google perspective.
Gillmor: Right? They’ve constructed a series of vectors on which you can build these architectures. Right? And they are going to have Silverlight in play in three months.
Messina: Yeah, yeah.
Gillmor: So how hard it going to be to build, develop a Silverlight container, for the kinds of things right now Twirl has architectured around AIR. How hard is that going to be to fork it to Silverlight?
Messina: Yeah, yeah.
Gillmor: Trivial. That’s what Loic Le Meur has already agreed that he’s going to do. And I’m sure Microsoft is going to help them and others.
Messina: Yeah, yeah, they will. I mean, they are going to do all the outreach and all that stuff.
Gillmor: But that’s a player at the end of the road. The iPhone is my favorite player at the end of the pipe, who controls that initial social graph, which in my opinion the most valuable social graph that I deal with on a daily basis is to follow Track architecture of Twitter.
Gillmor: Because I haven’t got time to do anything else.
Messina: Yeah. For sure.
Gillmor: Right. So that’s a very, very powerful platform. The only thing that they could lose that to would be a massive defection because they lie to us in some way that we understand that they’re full of shit.I think that they are going to squeak by and be able to survive, in which case that isn’t going to happen. So what are they going to do?
Vizard: All right. On that note, I’ve got to go.
Gillmor: OK. I think we’re going to wrap this one up. Listen, Chris, it’s been fantastic to have you here. I know from having talked with you in recent months that we have just explored the tip of the iceberg of your insane brain.
Messina: [laughs] Well, I appreciate the invitation to come on.
Gillmor: Yeah, and I hope you will come on again. And I want to thank Roberts Scoble for listening. That was something that has never happened.
Gillmor: And I just want to remind everybody that tomorrow the cofounders and developers of FriendFeed will be joining the Gang at 10:45 a.m.
Messina: That’s great.
Gillmor: So I hope you’ll tune in to that. This is Steve Gillmor. Thanks to everybody who showed up and especially those who didn’t. We’ll see you tomorrow. Bye-bye.