As the year draws to a close, I'm filled with the feeling that 2004 was the year that Silicon Valley technical folks and entrepreneurs who appreciate The Web Way started to gather with more regularity than any year since I arrived. (That would be December 2000, when KnowNow moved from Seattle to Silicon Valley.)
The Web Way is a philosophy toward Web-based services:
- They should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.
- They should have clean designs for user interfaces and clean designs for programming interfaces.
- Where it's useful, they should embrace REST.
- Where it's useful, they should embrace loose coupling.
- Where it's useful, they should embrace glorious, nonblocking, asynchronous pubsub. ;)
- Where it's useful, they should embrace microformats, a/k/a lowercase semantic web.
- Where it's needed, they should embrace the time-tested principles of Scalable Internet Architectures (three simple rules: optimize where it counts, complexity has its costs, and use the right tool).
It is no wonder that 2004 -- being the year of The Web Way -- was a breakout year for blogs, wikis, RSS, and REST. (For far-out thinkers, the principles of application-layer internetworking and ARRESTED may also prove useful in the 2009 to 2014 time frame.)
Looking back on the year of The Web Way, I see that my lives intertwingle category offers a delicious sampling of the kinds of gatherings that have taken place in 2004. The year started with a wonderful geek dinner organized by Jeremy Zawodny (thanks!). Or in spring, when some great folks did some web services networking. Or in summer, when we did the empire tap. Or in fall, at Web 2.0.
I was reminded of that dinner this evening when I was invited to dinner at King of Krung Siam with some of the Twelve Olympians of Mount Olympus of PHP: Rasmus Lerdorf (and child), George Schlossnagle (who flew out from OmniTI in Maryland), Tim Converse (fresh from interview fame), Jeremy Zawodny (fresh from grokking Bloomba, and still psychic), Kevin Murphy, Sterling Hughes, Joyce Park, and Raj Vaswani. Actually, Tim and Joyce are more like Moses bringing the tablets down from Mount Olympus, as represented by their PHP Bible. Bad metaphor, but you get the point. Anyway, Joyce told us that a loofah is the fibrous endoskeleton of a gourd -- and that was the least interesting thing I learned at the dinner table.
But I'm off-topic. My point is that when people who are well-versed in The Web Way meet over a meal (or better: booze), interesting ideas are exchanged and it's as if you can see the wheels of innovation gaining momentum. It is truly an awesome phenomenon, not to mention a delectable culinary experience.
Many times I just plain forget to blog about such gatherings. For example, last Tuesday November 23, Tantek arranged for a bunch of people well-versed in The Web Way to dine at Ti Couz Creperie. There I had the opportunity to talk with Tantek Çelik talking about microformats, Amber Nixon (the DJ who made the Fast 50 -- I voted), Jason DeFillippo (of metroblogging (I voted, blogrolling, and now technorati -- where does he find the time?), Aaron Boodman (who escaped billg to embrace the GOOG, but still had time for crepes with us), Niall Kennedy (technorati is two years old?!), Dinah Sanders (who's right that it's too cold in the Bay Area lately), Kragen Sitaker, Alex Russell (Dojo! Dojo! Dojo!), and troutgirl (who may never reveal her true identity again). It was a great time, and I learned a lot, and I wish it could have gone on longer...
But I know there will be more such get-togethers. There is reason to be optimistic. We have survived the Silicon Valley downturn, and we look ahead. There are a lot of innovations yet to be created, and the technologies of The Web Way are mature enough and inexpensive enough that entrepreneurs can gain momentum for their ideas; I look forward to more such interesting gatherings in 2005. 106 Miles does not exist yet except as the twinkle in Joyce's eye; but one day soon it will be so much more. And, before that, there should be some fun as well: on December 14 there's a pretty interesting zLab gathering that should be a blast. The future is wide open, and we're leaving the spammers behind...