ETech has lived up to its reputation for delivering new and interesting ideas. The morning was filled with short lightening talks (what O'Reilly calls "higher order bits) by some of the people making technology, including a talk by Danny Hillis on Applied Minds and an announcement of a new search platform, called A9, from Amazon. The latter is an open system that allows other search engines to be "plugged-in" using an extended version of RSS. The items in the RSS are the results. The extensions add some data to the channel information to give things like the number of search results.
This portends some interesting possibilities. For example, there are a number of search engines, like the NY Times, that are supporting this now. If the RSS results of the search are available in general, and not just to A9, then its possible for all kinds of services to start using them to aggregate search in interesting ways. I suspect that some will be open and some will be closed, but this is an exciting idea.
This afternoon, I listed to Nelson Minar from Google talk about his experiences building the AdWords API and Sam Ruby talk about why HTTP isn't as simple as we think. Both of these talks told me that we're still a long ways from universal Web services interoperability through either SOAP or REST. Even so, the AdWord's API is proof that in spite of these problems, useful Web services can be built with what we have now.
As I've listened to talks here, I've concluded to switch from Safari to Firefox. Safari is a wonderful application in terms of its beauty and function, but it can't compete with Firefox as an open system. Everyday there are new plug-ins and extensions to Firefox that I want to use. Its time to make the switch.