Scripting News for 11/3/07

Russell Beattie asks Obvious Question 2.0 

Russ asks: Where’s the OpenSocial container API?

I love Russ because he cuts through all the BS and gets right to the core, most basic question, and he doesn’t care who he pisses off. That’s my kind of developer. You can’t lie to the compiler, when the bits hit the road, you gotta know what garbage goes in and what garbage comes out.

(Ahh programmer’s humor!)

In other words, suppose I wanted to compete with Google, MySpace, Plaxo and LinkedIn, well, where’s the spec that shows me how to do that?

Well, of course I don’t know, they aren’t communicating with riffraff like me, but I have some experience with this kind of stuff, so I can hazard a guess. If they publish a spec,all kinds of projects will likely get started to enable the API in (just for the sake of argument): Drupal, WordPress, Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku, Scripting News (why not add widgets to a random blog), CNN, The New York Times, well you get the idea. There might be lots of implementations very quickly. And that would be it for changes. It would be frozen de facto, they’d have to live with what they have, which given how quickly it was thrown together, probably isn’t very good. Not the kind of stuff you’d like to support for the next decade or two.

Or maybe they would break everyone, something guaranteed to make them a lot of enemies, much the way Microsoft did, and they were good at migration of APIs.

Google is good at doing AJAXy web UIs, they make users happy, but they’re not very good at APIs. This one is a loser, for sure. That’s the answer to Russ’s question. It’s probably not malice that keeps them from releasing details to everyone outside their club, it’s pragmatism. They have to try to hold on to it to keep it from becoming even more of a mess than it already is.

Just my opinion, for what it’s worth. I’ve been wrong many times before.

Google’s phone should be good 

While I think Google’s plan to undermine Facebook was a bad idea that flopped, I think they should be able to design a phone that, like Apple’s iPhone, is a necessary accessory for the future-minded geek.

One of the things we like the most about mobile devices is that they can be used to access Internet applications, but neither the Blackberry or the iPhone have hit the sweet spot with web access, imho — but Google’s design process should yield something not ony usable but uniquely powerful. Combining search with email, maps and news is something they should be able to make work better than their competitors because they’ve done it so well on the web.

When news organizations see what Google’s up to, I suspect they will be more interested in what we’ve been doing with the NY Times.

And btw, I’m not selling my Apple stock. 🙂

Trying out 

I got an email a couple of weeks ago asking if I’d like to try out a new way to do weblog comments, from I thought about it, and decided to give it a try. Not sure whether I’m ready to provide an outlet for people’s anger so easily, but let’s see what happens.

To begin with the comments only appear on the story page, not on the Scripting News home page. Just click on the blue arrow to get to the story page.

5 responses to this post.

  1. The idea here is good but I don’t know if these companies have the method down yet. If you used CoComment the idea is similar but the implementation is broken in CoComment.


  2. Apple is far from perfect, but I’m not getting rid of my Apple stock either.

    Cynically, Earth will always produce some Darth-Vader-wannabes. Maybe we’re better off if they go into corporate planning instead of running for President (or Vice Peesident?)…


  3. Apple is the master of design and usability. I will find it very hard for Google to produce something better than the iPhone. Yes, not perfect, but the web experience is much better than anything I have used and to produce a mobile device to integrate so well with their stellar iPod makes it a real winner.

    I can’t imagine the gPhone being great, simple maybe, but not great.


  4. Hmmm. I do not see anything very different about this commenting. Did I miss something?


  5. Re Containers. Do you remember how specs from MS would basically consist of “The spec is what we do”. So (for a bad example) the Vcard spec is “What Outlook produces”. IE and HTML is another horrible bad memory in this area.

    Well I think the Container spec is very much the same, it consists of “whatever Orkut does”. And you’re right the bad news about this is that if Orkut isn’t very good (it isn’t) then the supportable spec isn’t very good either. In it’s favour, big parts of it are based on Atom and Atom has a well defined way of extending the spec via namespaces, but then we’re into the horrible issue where one Container can add a new namespace that Gadget writers may not be expecting and know nothing about.

    Hey, ho. It is of course even worse than it appears.


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