One point not remarked upon these days is how it matters less-and-less how you're developing something, or even what tools you're using.
What matters is the service you deliver, and its business model. And sometimes you can skip the business model. Here are some examples that fell into my e-mail box just today.
For instance, I don't know what tools BubbleShare used to build its new photo-sharing tool. What I care about is how well it works and (as a reporter) how the company will profit from that.
The same is true for MyHeritage, which launched a beta test recently. They want to build a database of faces they can use to help in geneology research. Their beta test is a demo in which you get to match your mug shot to those of 2,000 celebrities. (Do I really look like Donald Rumsfeld?) Do I care which operating system is used by their technology partner, Cognitec? From a business standpoint, no.
Back in the day I would have to buy new gear every other year, and upgrade my software regularly, in order to see the latest stuff. Now I can click my browser over to Anyfilms.Net and -- voila! Cool, a film site whose work can be downloaded to your mobile phone.
This new service economy is truly transformative, and not just for those interested in profit. I have here a release from CompuMentor, a nearly 20-year old San Francisco-based non-profit that helps other non-profits adopt technology. (The project is called NetSquared. That's the logo to the left.)
In the last year they've used the Google Maps API to help birth such projects as:
- A database showing where bike accidents happen in Seattle.
- A system to help victims of Hurricane Katrina find one another.
- Maps showing helipads in the Pakistani earthquake zone.
- Maps of New York City soup kitchens.
The point in this case, Franziska Marks writes, is that open source accelerates the development of new services, which all ride on the same Internet infrastructure.
I guess it's a Christmas present that keeps on giving, both to those who thirst for profit and those who thirst to serve.