Thursday, February 8, 2007

"Internet as a Computer"

Along the lines of my "Website as a Language" post, Yahoo! just released something called "Pipes" that promises to bring together websites in an organized way. A syntax, if you will, for whatever types your website uses. I suspect this idea, if not Pipes itself, will be very big this year because it holds the promise of brining together all the cool tools from different sites that people use.

Right now, it is the small minority, even here in the Valley, that use tools like Basecamp, Google Calendar, or PBWiki. I suspect some of this is a barrier that many websites don't consider: just remembering what the address is and what the website can do. My mom doesn't remember YouTube when thinking about Super Bowl commercials, and my dad still uses McNally maps when planning a car trip. With new tools such as Pipes, though, only one site will be needed to combine all of these small applications. Basecamp milestones will show up on your Kiko calendar, and Twitter can track data for your work's status report.

This will likely have two effects: eliminate the advantage that Google has in combining their offerings into suites, and exploding the market that small companies can reach. One of the reasons that Kiko cited for it's collapse was the integration with Gmail that Google Calendar offered. Heck, it's one of the main reasons I use it. Unless Google goes the Microsoft route and starts protecting it's products with proprietary formats, users in the future will be able to integrate their Hotmail addresses with Google Calendar just as easily. The second effect follows from the prediction that it will be easier for "normal" folks to use the small but useful tools scattered about the Internet.

Interestingly, sites are going to have to become more vulnerable in order to take advantage of these effects. If websites can become interchangeable for certain functions, usability and features become more important than stickiness. But if websites take that risk, design themselves to be expanded, enable themselves to be programatically processed, then a whole new market opens up to them.

So far, though, I'm just speaking in hypotheticals. I'll try to send an update when I actually try out Pipes. Very exciting!

1 comment:

Jim's mom said...

As the aforementioned "mom" in this posting, I'd just like to point out that the reason I don't "remember YouTube when thinking about Super Bowl commercials" is because I don't think about Super Bowl commercials to begin with! I must say, though, I am enjoying your "blag", Jim. It's so nice to hear what you're doing!