Making money from web services and other problems

Web Services: The Next IT Revolution?, which I co-wrote with three other MIT students for a course in eBusiness at Sloan, is now available on-line. We discuss the basic technical architecture of the IBM/Microsoft model of web services (as well as the current implementation practices), privacy and security impacts for individuals and organizations, the effects that web services will have on the software industry and on consumers, and how we think people will make money on web services.

If you aren’t familiar with the technology, you’ll probably be hearing more about it soon–it’s the paradigm behind Microsoft‘s .NET, Passport, and Hailstorm.

If you’re really familiar with the space already, you’ll probably find lots of places where we’ve made mistakes or consciously excluded things. One of the things that we consciously excluded was implementations that don’t follow the Microsoft and IBM model, including XML-RPC. Originally we wanted to include a balanced comparison of the different approaches, but realized we were limited on both time and space. In partial compensation, the website points to a couple of really good discussions of alternatives to the SOAP/UDDI/WSDL implementation approach.

My co-writers, Adam Brady-Myerov, Buddhika Kottahachchi, and Wenona Charles, have put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this project and have had some really valuable things to say. It’s been a real pleasure working with them.

Seven years later, KPMG discovers the Web

This is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while. [KPMG] I’ll be sure to go out and get a formal Agreement signed next time I link to someone’s site. [KPMG]

> A recent audit of Web sites, to which KPMG is hyperlinked, has revealed that
> contains a link to KPMG’s Web site,
> Please be aware such links require that a formal Agreement
> exist between our two parties, as mandated by our organization’s Web Link
> Policy …However, we
> would ask that you please remove the KPMG reference and corresponding link
> from in the meantime.

Oh, and just for the record: [KPMG]

Requiem for the CoffeeCam

I spoke too quickly about web cams yesterday. I just saw that the Coffee Pot Web Cam has gone permanently offline (since August, apparently). I’m so sad! Where else can I get free images of coffee over the Internet? How will I know when it’s time to hop a plane to Cambridge to make new coffee?

Seriously, I remember seeing the coffee pot in early 1994 and thinking, that’s seriously cool. It was the first time that I got a real clue about the power of the Web to allow people to share things across wide geographic distances–in a more meaningful way than files on an FTP server, words on Usenet newsgroups, or nodes on a Gopher directory. In some small way, the coffee pot image server is probably responsible for my publishing on the web. I think a small moment of silence is in order.

Six Web Services Predictions: Going Out on a Limb

I’m making six predictions about the web services space. Highlights: tighter margins for Accenture and OEMs, no room yet for pure-play billing providers, and ongoing developer interest in projects like XML-RPC but little measurable market share. Your comments are welcome–I’m just putting a finger in the wind and making some guesses that are as yet not backed up by ironclad research.

“Simple Guides” are best

A good guide from the developer standpoint about XML-RPC and SOAP, contrasting their differences, is available at What’s interesting is the section on how the BigCos are approaching this market and on documentation, which addresses the same point. Even if you don’t speak developer, reading these paragraphs illuminates why some companies have good developer relations and others don’t. Don’t get me using a product and then change the spec for how it works without telling me!!!

For Amateurs

Not that this has anything to do with the rest of the piece, but my wife and I (yes, she’s back in town for a few days–yay!) ate at Seattle’s famed Wild Ginger last night. Sadly, we were very disappointed. While the food itself was quite good (though very mild compared to the Thai food that inspired it), the service was so far below sub-par it wasn’t even funny. We got there half an hour early for a 9:30 reservation (so we could hang out in the bar and chat) but weren’t seated until 9:45. The waiter was condescending about the wine list (which was overpriced)… Enough rant. Bottom line: go to Flying Fish instead. Much better experience.

So, “for amateurs.” Douglas Rushkoff in the Guardian wrote this piece that echoes my feelings about the possible harm from the dot-com fallout. Rushkoff says, “The point is to do what we do online because we love it…Anything done in this very transparent medium for any other reason gets exposed. It’s as if the more active mindset we use to navigate the internet allows us to detect the intentions of its many posters and navigators. If there’s no real passion for anything but revenue, we know it. We can smell it.”

I have long thought the same about music (in the immortal words of choral conductor Robert Shaw, “Choral music is like sex. Both are far too important to be left solely to professionals”). I think on some very fundamental level this can be generalized to our work, our private activities, our interaction with our families. Purity of motive and honesty about motive count for a lot in my book.

I was sad because I had no broadband

…until I met a man with no modem. If you’re trying to contact my parents via email, you may want to try the phone instead — their modem perished via electrical storm last week. The moral of the story: get one of those little modem surge protectors from Radio Shack. Your Internet thanks you.

Yucca Flats

So the cryptic reference in yesterday’s writeup was to a beverage called Yucca Flats, which we used to enjoy at Myrtle Beach after classes ended each spring when I was in college. For the record, here’s the recipe: Put 10 lbs of ice in a cheap styrofoam cooler. Pour a big (1.75 liter) bottle of vodka over the ice. Put sliced fruit (whatever you’ve got handy, but make sure to include limes, oranges, and maraschino cherries, plus the liquid the cherries came in) in the cooler. Add about 1-2 cups of sugar. Stir. Put the lid on the cooler and place it in direct sunlight for about six hours, stirring periodically. (The ice must melt down enough so that you can’t taste the vodka any more).

The only problem I ran into making it last night was that I didn’t get enough direct sunlight, so I had to use a few cups of hot water to melt some of the ice — which made it a little too weak. But it had good flavor anyway.

Reggie Aggarwal and the Thrilla from Manila

A long time ago, I decided to start this page so that I could play around with the Manila technology and keep a web log. I didn’t realize the power I had at my hands until I started looking at my referer log. I saw that a lot of people had come to my page after searching for things on Google. Curious, I clicked through one Google link (a search request for info on Reggie Aggarwal) and found that I had the top two links for him! The links showed up ahead of his own home page and his official biography at his company.

I can only assume that the Manila back end managed to store my site in such a way that it showed up pretty darn high on Google. I don’t know how you did this, guys, but I’m sure I speak for all Reggie’s fans when I say I’m grateful.