Joseph Smarr

Thoughts on web development, tech, and life.

Month: November 2008

A New Open Stack: Greater than the Sum of its Parts (Internet Identity Workshop 2008b)

A New Open Stack: Greater than the Sum of its Parts
Internet Identity Workshop 2008b
Mountain View, CA
November 10, 2008

Download PPT (5.5MB)

I was asked to give one of the opening overview talks at the Internet Identity Workshop about how the “Open Stack” is getting mainstream sites interested in supporting OpenID, OAuth, and Portable Contacts, because the combined value these technologies offer together is greater than the sum of their parts. Having learned so much myself at previous IIWs, it was both an honor and a unique challenge to address this crowd and do them justice–the audience is a mix of super-savvy veterans and new people just getting interested in the space, and I wanted to please everybody. So I put together a new talk with a new core message: the Open Stack is greater than the sum of its parts, and together these building blocks are delivering enough value to make the proposition a win-win-win for developers, users, and site owners to adopt and embrace.

The talk was well received, and it led to a lively discussion afterwards in the break and at dinner. I can’t wait to see what sessions people will call over the next two days to discuss these issues in more depth. It was certainly a joy to be able to demo running code on Yahoo, Google, and MySpace as part of my talk–this is no longer a theoretical exercise when it comes to talking about putting these standards to work! I was even able to show off a newly developed Android app that uses OAuth and Portable Contacts to allow import into your cell phone from an arbitrary address book. I just found about the app this morning–now that’s the Open Stack in action!

As usual, John McCrea covered the event and provides a great write-up with pictures.

Update: MySpace’s Max Engel captured a good portion of my talk on video.

The Widgets Shall Inherit the Web (Widget Summit 2008)

The Widgets Shall Inherit the Web
Widget Summit 2008
San Francisco, CA
November 4, 2008

Download PPT (7.1MB)

For the second year in a row, I gave a talk at Niall Kennedy‘s Widget Summit in San Francisco. My my, what a difference a year makes! Last year, I was still talking about high-performance JavaScript, and while I’d started working on opening up the social web, the world was a very different place: no OpenSocial, no OAuth, no Portable Contacts, and OpenID was still at version 1.1, with very little mainstream support. Certainly, these technologies were not top-of-mind at a conference about developing web widgets.

But this year, the Open Stack was on everybody’s mtheind–starting with Cody Simms’s keynote on Yahoo’s Open Strategy, and following with talks from Google, hi5, and MySpace, all about how they’ve opened up their platforms using OpenSocial, OAuth, and the rest of the Open Stack. My talk was called “The Widgets Shall Inherit the Web”, and it explained how these open building blocks will greatly expand the abilities of widget developers to add value not just inside existing social networks, but across the entire web. John McCrea live-blogged my talk, as well as the follow-on talk from Max Engel of MySpace.
Most of the slides themselves came from my recent talk at Web 2.0 Expo NY, but when adapting my speech to this audience, something struck me: widget developers have actually been ahead of their time, and they’re in the best position of anyone to quickly take advantage of the opening up the social web. After all, widgets assume that someone else is taking care of signing up users, getting them to fill out profiles and find their friends, and sharing activity with one another. Widgets live on top of that existing ecosystem and add value by doing something new and unique. And importantly, it’s a symbiotic relationship–the widget developers can focus on their unique value-add (instead of having to build everything from scratch), and the container sites get additional rich functionality they didn’t have to build themselves.

This is the exactly the virtous cycle that the Open Stack will deliver for the social web, and so to this audience, it was music to their ears.

PS: Yes, I still voted on the same day I gave this talk. I went to the polls first thing in the morning, but I waited in line for over 90 minutes (!), so I missed some of the opening talks. Luckily my talk wasn’t until the afternoon. And of course, it was well worth the wait! 🙂

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