Wednesday, December 21, 2005

hardware, software, infoware

Tim O'Reilly
Originally uploaded by Bill Kerr.
What is the software paradigm shift?

The term paradigm shift is taken from Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions, eg. the shift from an earth centred view of the solar system to a sun centred view

When audiences are asked, “How many of you use Linux?” then for some audiences only a small percentage put their hand up.

But when asked, “How many of you use Google?” then 100% put their hands up

If you are using Google then you are using Linux, since Google runs on Linux. What you use may not be mainly in your PC on your desktop. Increasingly we use internet applications such as google, amazon and eBay.

The paradigm shift is towards the predominant use of applications which reside somewhere on network servers. The network, not the PC, has moved to the centre of the universe.

It is software that stands above the level of a single device or operating system.

Another aspect of the shift is peer to peer. Client – server thinking is old thinking. Napster was created from the insight that you don’t need to have all the songs on your PC, you just need to be able to access songs by using collaborative software that can search the internet.

“Google is a collaborative work.” Ditto for amazon and eBay.

Users help to build these companies just by using their services for their own ends. For example, if a website is not found in google then a blogger can put it into google by publishing the URL in their blog.

Users build amazon by writing readers reviews of items they buy, such as books, through amazon and publishing those reviews on amazon. This feature is one of the most useful things about amazon.

There is hardware, software and infoware. What is inforware? It is the combination of software and information as illustrated by companies such as google, amazon and eBay. They have good software but their dominance is based just as much on their information and the critical mass of users they have developed.

This is my summary of Tim O'Reilly's interview The Software Paradigm Shift. You can obtain the full voice interview from it-conversations


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