The war for the Web

November 17, 2009 | Leave a comment

Tim O’Reilly has a great piece up on Radar:

If you’ve followed my thinking about Web 2.0 from the beginning, you know that I believe we are engaged in a long term project to build an internet operating system. (Check out the program for the first O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in 2002 (pdf).) In my talks over the years, I’ve argued that there are two models of operating system, which I have characterized as "One Ring to Rule Them All" and "Small Pieces Loosely Joined," with the latter represented by a routing map of the Internet.

This is exactly it (although for technical accuracy, I prefer the term “application platform” to “operating system”). The “one ring to rule them all” approach is the game being played by companies like Facebook and Google. “Small pieces loosely joined” is the open approach, which seeks to create an Internet application platform that isn’t reliant on any one service provider – much like most of the rest of the Internet works today. (Anyone can run an email server, for example, without having to hook up to a central email provider.) I strongly believe that this second approach is the only one that can ensure a secure future for the web.

The full article is worth a read. Most intriguing, for me, is Tim’s postscript:

P.S. One prediction: Microsoft will emerge as a champion of the open web platform, supporting interoperable web services from many independent players, much as IBM emerged as the leading enterprise backer of Linux.

I had a conversation yesterday with someone related to Microsoft which suggests that this isn’t the case. Nonetheless, it’s a genius strategy, and I hope someone up there in MicrosoftLand is listening. (And hey, Microsoft, if that’s what you’re up to – I want in.)