Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

My vacation

Author:Dave Winer
Posted:4/3/1999; 7:15:00 AM
Topic:My vacation
Msg #:4773
Prev/Next:4772 / 4774

A vacation! With the Frontier 6.0 shipment done, I'm going to do something unusual, I'm taking a vacation! I leave on Tuesday, April 6, and will be back on April 20. It's *conceivable* that there will be updates to the Scripting News home page while I'm traveling, I can update it thru a web browser, but don't count on it. This is my chance to get away. I never know what that means, every time it's different. My main objectives for this period are to do a lot of body surfing in the Atlantic Ocean, and to read some non-serious stuff and visit with friends. I will have a couple of business meetings on the trip, but they're long-term things. Workgroup web server I'm at a resting point. Most of the technical goals we set out to achieve in the spring of 1996 are now achieved. Frontier is a now workgroup web server, a category that's going to explode, I think, in the next few years. Everyone else seems to have missed this, that there's a position between personal webservers and the simple honkers that can run Yahoo, Excite or Lycos. The trees and the forest All the necessary components are there. Robust HTTP client/server, a full content management system, Edit this Page functionality, a solid network computing model, and a high level programming interface. Remember, this is scripting, not low-level stuff. My friend Marc Canter, a very wise man, shared some of his thoughts on this at the Passover seder on Wednesday night. "Now you're writing an operating system in a scripting language," he said. I had lost sight of that. It's true. We made a bet ten years ago that personal computers would get faster and bigger and stay cheap. The bet was that script code would perform like C code. It's a good time to reflect on that. We got there! Everyone who's working in Frontier now, whether they know it or not, is using a new kind of operating system. It's reasonably platform-agnostic, it runs on Mac OS and Windows, but in a real sense, the services those systems provide to Frontier developers are commodities. A file system, interface to the screen and keyboard and mouse, a TCP stack. Most of the juice is supplied by scripts. Thousands of lines of script code is running every time Frontier does something. Moore's Law will push us forward even further into uncharted territory. As Frontier deepens, there will 8-CPU machines, then 16-CPU machines, and so on. RAM will continue to get cheaper. Megahertz and disk space will get cheaper too. As that's going on, more web users will become web authors. Our software will distribute, now running primarily on a content management workstation or server, and soon on the desktops of people who write for the web. Imagine a portal that not only aggregates the brain power of thousands of people, but also gives them powerful tools to connect with other people whose brains and experience are available over the web. That's our roadmap. Today's users are web browser users. They usually are not using the same machine that the code is running on. When they are, this is the unusual Fractional Horsepower HTTP Server concept that's going to be very big, I think. Apps that can be moved off your desktop to a server and back again, whenever you want. How you can participate OK, that's the pre-vacation vision. There's no doubt that my perspective is clouded by eight months of intense development work. When I come back I will have the next steps outlined, and be ready to build some more Frontier 6 applications. That's where I want to work, for the forseeable future. In applications. So, I hope while I'm gone that the lions of the Frontier community will dig into the sample apps that we've created and explore some of the applications they suggest. Think in terms of guest databases that have code and templates, and other guest databases storing data and user profile information. Assume you know every person coming into your website. What can you do to make the experience more useful to them? The best way for you to participate is to figure out ways for your users to participate. That's how we all get onto an exponential growth curve. Think about the wishlists of your users. How many of them can you address now that the base software has grown so much more powerful? I encourage you to raise your issues here, share your ideas when you can. My.UserLand.Com In the remaining months of 1999, we will transform into a new kind of portal. We've already begun. We're offering our basic system software at a low price relative to the competition because we want to do a distributed system that allows us to tap the creativity of thousands of web developers. We've priced our software to sustain a modest-size development team. We've noticed that the market is not rewarding companies for software revenue, we've seen that relationships with web users is where the profits are. We've structured the economics of our company accordingly. Our vision is unlike that of any other portal company, rather than have a small group of invisible people behind an HTML interface, we have a large group of autonomous developers, many of whom run their own servers, who are capable of producing excellent content and helping thousands of other less technical people define their vision of Nirvana. People often ask the question "Does Frontier scale?" My answer is "Unlike anything you've ever seen before." The old vision of a web server being monolithic and mysterious and hard to access will melt over the next few years. Web servers are simple. It's the people that are complex. Having software meet the people is the real game in web space. When Netscape announced RSS I knew almost immediately that it was something we were waiting for. The idea of a distributed writing system is one we've been building around since the early days of AutoWeb and Clay Basket, it actually predates that, going all the way back to LBBS in the early 80s. The importance of RSS is that it marked a moment when a market was ready to go that way. We solve so many more problems than RSS, but many if not all of them fit neatly behind RSS. Emphatically, this will not be a corporate thing. The involvement of Netscape's lawyers proves that they don't get it. This will be immune from Microsoft, unless the break themselves up so they can take some real risks. If they choose to do this, more power to them. If they defeat us in software, we will have won the larger battle, the control of distribution of information. We won't ever be anti-Microsoft,. Microsoft is the corporate gorilla of the 1990s and probably the next decade too (what shall we call that?). They will sell software to the brick and mortar companies, the ones who are being displaced by the Internet, the ones we will swarm around, and make irrelevant. If our race survives the war in Kosovo, the next time one of these things happens, we won't be depending on the NY Times and CNN to get us the news. Next time around the Internet will have matured and deepened, and will be far more distributed. We'll get more of our news directly from the source. We will hear from Serbs, Macedonians, Kosovans, etc, and the bombs and tanks won't be as powerful. When software is centralized, as we've seen in the Melissa problem, it encourages people to be irresponsible. They have an illusion of separation. In fact, we are all connected now. And our responsibility is connected too. This is where the biggest juice is. More powerful distributed ways for people to connect at points of responsibility. It will allow more informed opinions. That's why I'm interested in the Internet. That's why we're developing the software we're developing. My.UserLand.Com is the new focus. I'm going to do a little bit of cleanup on Sunday and Monday, and then take my break. I encourage all of you to explore the new content management features in F6, and when I get back, to plot our next steps in our mission to empower millions to create great web content. Pointers Fractional Horsepower HTTP Servers. Frontier 6 Example Apps.

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