Robb’s tops and flops for 2001

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

John Robb’s posted his Tops and Flops in Technology for 2001. Among the flops, he picked P2P, 3G, Portals, and Open Source. Among the tops he posted Tivo, Wifi, and digital cameras. As you can imagine, there is disagreement with his choices, such as Dive Into Mark.

I also take exception to John’s pick of Open Source and P2P as flops, regardless of his justification that they didn’t live up to their “hype” from 2000.

Yes, P2P did generate a lot of hype, primarily because of Napster. But P2P is not just Napster, or Groove, or any one application. P2P is a concept rather than a specific implementation. P2P is based on the concept of non-centralized Internet access; access that isn’t controlled by an one server or any one entity. If you apply this concept to Internet access today, it could cover email, weblogging, and even web services. It would even cover something like Userland’s Manila. Napster was only one aspect of P2P, and not a great one at that.

As for Open Source, well Mark has it right — John you missed the mark (sorry, pun unintended) with this one. Consider the premise behind open source: groups of people from throughout the world, working on source code for specific projects, in most cases without any expectation of remuneration or even acknowledgement. Now consider the products, as Mark did: Apache, Mozilla, Python, Ant, Linux, and the list goes on. Too much hype? We haven’t hyped these efforts enough! They represent the best of our industry; they represent the best of us. If we measure technology success purely by stock value and profit, then we’re in sad, sad shape. What was it Dave Winer talked about recently? Internet carpetbaggers?

However, I also realize that John is basically a Suit. He reads about trends, and he reads about approaches, and he writes about them, and he makes recommendations, and he manages — but John doesn’t get his hands dirty. He doesn’t get into the technology. He might be called a “technology expert”, but he’s not a techie. So he’s not going to look at Open Source, or even P2P from the ground level. He’ll look at it from a bottom line, or from a spreadsheet, or from the viewpoint of counted lines in publications, or from conversations with techies, but he’ll never have a techie perspective. So, I’m tempted to cut him some slack — he doesn’t really understand the technology. The industry, yes. The business, yes. But not the technology.

December 28th

Robb has pulled the entry with the following statement:

I am beginning to think there isn’t any real intellectual rigor behind the open source movement.


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