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Software Council retreat

I spent Friday at the Massachusetts Software and Internet Council‘s board retreat. I carefully took notes on the other guests’ presentations and just as carefully left my notepad there. So, here are four highlights as I remember them, in no particular order.

1. Something David Boloker of IBM said in his clear and succinct talk on Web Services set off both John Landry (ex-Lotus CTO and now an investor and multi-board member) and Dan Bricklin who were both in the audience of about 25. Landry is enthusiastic about Web services as a way of integrating applications but thinks that the vision of applications roaming the Web, searching out services, and melding themselves into mega-meta-apps is overblown. In particular, he isn’t convinced of the value of large, public UDDI directories that list all the available services of various apps. Boloker replied that he saw UDDI’s value mainly within private application spaces; for example, within an automotive suppliers exchange, a UDDI directory of parts and app services might be helpful. Bricklin pointed to a consequence worse than the under-utilization of these directories. He’s worried that the Web services protocols are being architected to serve such a wide range of possible-but-farfetched uses that they are getting freighted down with baggage for a trip no one will take; he pointed to SOAP in particular. I hadn’t heard this concern before.

Landry, Michael Kinkead and Bricklin

3. John Benditt, who until recently was the editor of MIT’s Technology Review, talked about how nanotechnology — in particular, carbon nanotubes — will be used within computers. He said that within 18-24 months, flat-panel TVs will be available at prices competitive with the normal tube-based models, with better quality picture, driven by nanotech. A sheet of carbon nanotubes will replace the electron gun, for they emit electrons when you run a current through them and can thus be used to excite the phosphorescent coating that produces the light that wastes our time. He said that companies such as Samsung are promising this, and that the technology will be applied to computer displays after TVs. Cool! He also said that if you place two layers of nanotubes perpendicular to one another, you can cause the tubes to align or not, thus providing an incredibly dense storage mechanism, eventually packing a terabit (ok, here comes some math: a terabit = 1/8 a terabyte = 128 gigabytes?) into a 1 cm square surface. And it is non-volatile, i.e., you can turn off the power and it retains its state. Finally, he said that companies are working on nanotube CPUs which would let Moore’s law reign into the foreseeable future.

4. Landry talked about the importance of wireless, which he sees as the next leader in the 7 year technology cycle. He and Bricklin were at each other like cats in a sack over Bluetooth. Bricklin is all like “802.11 is going to kick Bluetooth’s butt” and Landry is all like “Bluetooth works and is being built into devices” and Bricklin is all like “It’s too expensive” and Landry goes “It’s $4 per chip from TI” and Bricklin is all like “Your pits smell” and Landry goes “He who smelt it dealt it and besides Bluetooth can support up to 7 simultaneous connections” and then Dintersmith did a flying anvil at Benditt but missed and landed on a plate of cookies that dumped on Judith Hurwitz who put Dintersmith into a powerlock while Benditt did the drum solo from In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida on him with his own PCMCIA card. And then I had to leave because my Mom was like honking the car outside for me.

But seriously, it was a great way to spend a day. I learned a lot.

BTW, Dan comments in his blog on a Pew study of how people actually use Broadband. [Spoiler ahead:] We don’t use it the same way they use TV. We actually create and share content rather than simply viewing it.

Dan also has some excellent save-yourself-the-trip blog coverage of what used to be called PC Expo but now has been renamed to “PC-Cella” or “12:06pm” or”Pepsi Presents 12:06pm” or some damn thing.

[Full disclosure: I “sampled” (= stole) the “Pepsi presents…” joke from the Simpsons.]

One Response to “Software Council retreat”

  1. In regards to #3, I was just wondering if the cost of nanotech research for the flat-panel makers will keep prices high, regardless of their lowered cost. Was this question addressed? Just wanted to know whether I should actually hold out for a less expensive/better tv …

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