The Open Stack is a term coined by Joseph Smarr to represent the core set of open technologies that web application developers are converging on:
I spent Friday evening at the Digg offices in San Francisco for the first ever Open Stack meetup. Organised by David Recordon (who continues to be a superhero in this space) and Digg’s own Joe Stump, the main thrust of the evening was a set of presentations and demos from the likes of Smarr, OpenSocial’s Kevin Marks and DiSo’s Chris Messina (whose ActivityStreams work could lead to interesting places, and mirrors some of the stuff we’ve been doing behind the scenes with OpenDD). The room was a concentrated hotbed of some of the most interesting people in web technology; now that more and more people are focusing on the same core set of standards, the real innovation can begin.
Joseph Smarr was arguably the star of the show (as Marc puts it, he “just kicked ass”) – PortableContacts is exactly what an open, standard API should be. Using OAuth or HTTP basic authentication, users can move their contact lists from one application to another. It’s a simple concept, and the underlying technology is correspondingly lightweight. It’s nonetheless impressive to see Google export natively to Plaxo. (It also makes me wonder if OpenDD might be better served as an API standard than a format, but that’s a discussion for elsewhere.)
It’s going to be interesting watching the web develop over the next year. Economic conditions mean there are a lot of sole operators, and a lot of people clinging to very large companies for dear life. The model that the Open Stack makes possible – lots of very tiny pieces of functionality that can be wrapped into different combinations for different applications – allows people to put together interesting web tools with very little investment. At the same time, it allows some of the larger providers (eg Google) to stick their fingers into innovative new ideas without any direct financial outlay; investment through bartering, in a sense.
Update: The Yahoo! Developer Network has added their overview of the evening.