Socailtext is adopting Twitter annotations for a new service it is calling Socailtext Connect. The service is a method for connecting legacy apps by surfacing events that appear in an activity stream.
The service, now in beta, uses the work done on the Twitter annotations spec to create a social layer that makes events in systems readable both by machines and human. The connector serves as a bridge between an on-premise or cloud-based enterprise application.
It's the machine-to-machine communication that makes this most significant. In many respects it's a reminder of how far we have come since the first versions of RSS became such an integral part of the Web. RSS, Atom and other syndication technologies have shown us how the Web can be programmed for machines to communicate, trigger events and provide us with information and insights for our daily work.
It's that connection which makes annotations powerful. Apps can be connected by providing, to use a metaphor, an invisible thread that finds the event and pulls it to the surface.
But is this new? It's similar to Salesforce.com's activity stream that surfaces events from the Force.com platform. It's also similar to Socialcast, which pulls in updates from legacy applications into an activity stream.
The annotations that Socialtext is adopting is part of a deeper effort to build on the work done in recent years to preserve what many call the open Web. The Socialtext news is also a sign that the enterprise is advancing faster with activity streams than their consumer counterparts.
Today, the Web is transforming in a way that requires machines to better communicate. This is especially true in the enterprise where the Web is the network that operates both internally and externally to systems of multiple varieties, such as wireless networks and fast emerging smart systems. One trillion sensors will emerge in the next five years on everything from smart meters to heart devices. That means the Web becomes just a part of the Internet, serving as a system to connect other systems.
Socialtext co-founder Ross Mayfield says activity streams are quickly evolving into application streams. As more software emerges so will be the need to connect machines to trigger events. People will be notified through this complex network.
Socialtext Connect will provide the ability for events from these systems to be passed as a message that people or machines can subscribe to and follow. An application could subscribe to another application that triggers an event such as a reminder to a system to replenish an inventory system.
These "app bots," as Mayfield calls them, serve as an environment for messaging.
Michael Cote, an analyst with Red Monk, made the point in conversation that there is this new interest in messaging services. Annotations fit that bill to some extent.
Is middleware the new hot stuff? It is starting to seem that way as the need continues for that special glue that can connect all aspects of the dynamic supply chain.