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July 5, 2005
Grokster Decision Leads to Web 2.0?
Last week's Cringely column is another of those "What's on Bob's mind" exercises, combining two widely varying topics - in this case the Grokster decision and the so-called "Web 2.0" or semantic Web.
Cringely's main point seems to be that the intention standard, on which many people have focused (see for example discussion at SCOTUSblog, or various postings by Derek Slater at Deep Links) is irrelevant. It's irrelevant because the true successor to Grokster won't be BitTorrent or any of its ilk (see Donna's pointer to Ernie Miller's summary on BitTorrent).
The true successor, says Bob, will be an API-based service built from pieces offered by different organizations, so different from Grokster that there won't even be an entity to which the intention standard could be applied. Erm, maybe.
Cringely leaves out a lot of steps in this chain, one of which is that the semantic Web project is in its fourth year and shows no signs of disturbing the huge growth of the WWW as we know it. There's every reason to believe that the semantic Web will remain a pipe dream for many years to come, and file-sharing will likely continue to evolve in the meantime. You can also bet that the intention standard will be tested in plenty of court cases soon. My personal feeling is that the Cartel will take this as carte blanche to go on deep fishing expeditions into the business model of anyone they don't overtly control, under the guise of trying to show "intention."
Second, the open API construction that Cringely is talking about is coming to pass in the guise of service-oriented architectures (SOAs). These SOAs are built using XML-based protocols such as SOAP that may be useful in the semantic Web, but aren't really the same thing any more than TCP/IP is the same as email.
Cringely's best quote comes at the start of the column, where he opines that
Depending on who you are, this decision probably appeared to be wise or unwise, fair or unfair, good or bad, and either chilling for technical innovation, or...well, chilling for technical innovation.
At least he got that part right.
(Full disclosure: at least one of my friends works at W3C on the Semantic Web team. No offense intended either way.)
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