IBM CTO for Emerging Technologies talks about Ajax, Web 2.0 and trust

David Boloker CTO of Emerging Technologies at IBM came to Silicon Valley town to speak at Ajax World. I caught up with him Wednesday morning and we talked about Ajax and Web 2.
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor

David Boloker CTO of Emerging Technologies at IBM came to Silicon Valley town to speak at Ajax World. I caught up with him Wednesday morning and we talked about Ajax and Web 2.0, and a new early alpha initiative IBM calls QEDwiki that can provide the framework for integrating information and applications within enterprises:

David Boloker is very interested in Ajax and very interested in making sure that there aren't dozens of nuances of Ajax. He and Scott Dietzen, CTO at Zimbra, one of the earliest Ajax apps companies, founded the Open Ajax Alliance.

"Every Ajax toolset was following its own nuance of Ajax and the problem was that each toolset wanted to 'own' the whole page. This created many conflicts and made it difficult to pull together different components," said Mr Boloker. "We did not want to create a standards body but to create agreement on some basic things such as naming JavaScript objects."

Is an Ajax application the same as a Web 2.0 application? "No, a Web 2.0 application has to include the social dimension, how it implements tagging, for example, and sharing, and all the other community oriented aspects that are important," said Mr Boloker.

For IBM, Ajax and Web 2.0 represent new generations of  applications that use the web as a platform. And they have characteristics that enable users to create their own "my web" experience by mashing/pulling  together Ajax components from many different sources.

A key to that approach is to be able to provide the framework that enables that type of integration. And that is the OpenAjax Hub an open source project.

But with everyone having access to this framework, where is the value-add? Mr Boloker says it will be in two places. One is in the value of the data or content. The databases of content will have value to organizations and users, such as Reuters feeds, or databases of chemical data for example.

The second place will be in the Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) layer which is all about services. And IBM is a services oriented company.

"The focus for us is on the business professional, not the IT department. All you need to do is operate a mouse and know how to drag and drop."

That's the basis for IBM's alpha project called QEDwiki (Quickly and Easily Done wiki), which is being tested by 20 large corporations. This is IBM's version of what Jotspot, SocialText, and others are offering, a way to enable business people to mashup sources, feeds and applications, by what I call drag and drop share or not (DADSON), depending on user access rights.

But mashing up feeds and data means trust in the source. I pointed out that Google News recently was carrying a news headline that had been hacked, it carried an anti-US anti-Israel message. In that case, Google had not verified the content, it was corrupted, and that corrupted trust in Google.

In the brave new world of web applications and mashups, verifying that content comes from where it says it does will be absolutely critical. But how will that be done?

Mr Boloker said that feeds could be signed with security certificates but he also acknowledged that even Microsoft has had problems with security certificates.

Trust will come from long standing relations, contracts, and also using security technologies, said Mr Boloker. "It will come from your relationships with your vendors and an established history of trust. You will assign different levels of trust to a feed. And trust will be offered as yet another service."

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Additional resources and links:

About: OpenAjax Alliance

In late 2005, thanks largely to the globetrotting of David Boloker, IBM’s CTO of Emerging Internet Technologies, a small number of leading companies brainstormed about how to ensure that Ajax fulfills its potential as the industry standard rich application platform based on open technologies. These early discussions came to a climax on Feb. 1, 2006, with the announcement of the "OpenAjax Initiative", whose 15 original companies included BEA, Borland, the Dojo Foundation, Eclipse Foundation, Google, IBM, Laszlo Systems, Mozilla Corporation, Novell, Openwave Systems, Oracle, Red Hat, Yahoo, Zend and Zimbra. (See press release on launch of OpenAjax with 15 original companies.)

Between February 1 and May 15, another 15 organizations joined "OpenAjax", and the (then) 30 companies held a two-day kickoff meeting in San Francisco to lay out the blue-print for the initiative moving forward. At the meeting, the group decided to establish the OpenAjax Alliance, defined its mission, agreed on an interim organizational process, and established its initial activities. Today, over 50 companies have participated in the OpenAjax Initiative (see article on first OpenAjax meeting) and are at various stages of joining the OpenAjax Alliance.

About: OpenAjax Hub

The OpenAjax Hub is a set of standard JavaScript functionality defined by the OpenAjax Alliance, with strong focus on being small and fast, that addresses key interoperability issues that arise when multiple Ajax libraries are used within the same web page.

The OpenAjax Hub represents a key part of the technical work of the OpenAjax Alliance.

The Alliance is managing the development of an open source reference implementation of the OpenAjax Hub at SourceForge.

From IBM:

IBM Sees Everyday Web Applications as Driver for Business Collaboration and Success

Santa Clara, CA - AjaxWorld Conference, October 4, 2006 – In a keynote speech to leading technology executives, David Boloker, IBM's chief technology officer for emerging Internet technologies, said that the combination of Web 2.0 tools and open source communities are creating a "perfect storm" to enable new kinds of collaborations among businesses and their constituents.
Mr. Boloker also announced that IBM would make new technology contributions to the open source community to speed the adoption and growth of Web 2.0 technologies among enterprises.
Included in IBM’s newest contributions to the open source community are additional enhancements to the Eclipse Foundation’s Ajax Technology Framework (ATF) and the Mozilla Foundation.  IBM plans to generate Ajax as part of the JSF Tools in the next release of IBM Rational Application Developer, which is slated to be available later this year. 
 For more information, please visit: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/ajax.

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