Four Pillars: Time to say goodbye to Laocoon

ne credite, Teucri / Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentes

Laocoon ( in Virgil’s Aeneid)

In those days he urged us to beware the Greeks even when they came bearing gifts. I’ve had the chance to detach myself from anything and everything for a few days, and it set me thinking. Looking hard at the laptop I didn’t have, playing with the software that wasn’t on it.

And it occurred to me that much of the software I was using was proudly badged and branded Beta. These Greeks came bearing gifts I liked.

It also occurred to me that these Beta things worked pretty well with each other. And I mused to myself, maybe we’re not in Web n.0 where n is an integer. Maybe we’re in Web Beta, and our goal is Web Sigma.

Web Sigma. An integrated net of David Weinberger pieces loosely joined, with high cohesion and loose coupling, driven by open community standards and principles. Enabling Cluetrain conversations and Johnson emergence. In modern firms that bring together Malone and Semler and Roberts. [Completely irrelevant aside, except to people like me. Apparently the only financier of the happening on Yasgur’s farm thirty-odd years ago was a John Roberts. Anyone know what happened to him?]


Web Sigma. With many of the small pieces appearing to do similar things but with small overlaps and underlaps. With no marginal cost increases as a result of these overlaps and underlaps, this apparent proliferation. [Maybe worrying about proliferation is itself something caused by living too long in locked-in-vendor land].

Changing metaphor and meme occasionally is a good thing for me, helps me think harder about things. I am intrigued by what Web Beta represents, why it’s happening. Is it because software developers have come out of the closet and admitted stuff doesn’t quite work first time around. Or (my preferred take) were software developers never in that particular closet anyway, that we can deal with Web Beta only because we’ve managed to move away from a blame culture?

Web Beta also allows me to give in to temptation, to define things that stop us from getting there as Beta Blockers -)  I could include all the bad aspects of DRM and current IPR regimes and IMS and two-tier internets and badly thought out identity or privacy or security. And I like the coherent smooth continuous integration landscape that Web Sigma conjures up.

Something to think about.

Let me know what you think

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