As a follow-up to my Reliance post yesterday, which was on the subject of my dependence on web servers, I read something by Mitch Kapor this morning that resonates (even though his post was from a different context):

“I think I’ve unfairly maligned servers in the past. It’s not the server I dislike, it’s the idea that as an end user I am disempowered if the work I want to do depends on the administration of a piece of software I don’t control, can’t get access to, and plays by a different set of rules. The PC-era pioneer in me says, “get rid of it”. Another approach might be, “tame it and make it serve me”.

Electricity comes out of the plug in the wall reliably (in the developed nations). Landline telephones have reliable dial tone. Why can’t we have utility-level connectivity for user data? And why can’t it be open source? This is a big, ambitious vision, and it’s not just about servers per se, but operational reliability as an overall system function (think Google with its hundred thousand servers) but maybe there’s something here. More on this later too.”

There are a number of themes here that interest me. It’s early in the day where I am and I haven’t got my head around it all yet, but it’s to do with: operational reliability, user empowerment on the Web, integration of the web system with one’s person, control, “taming” computers, commoditization, and of course the old chestnut of browser-based apps vs desktop apps. This is a placeholder post, while I mull over it. If anybody has any relevant pointers or links, feel free to make a comment. p.s. isn’t it interesting that when people discuss heavy themes like this, Google always comes up…