Home Do Entrepreneurs Dream of Electric XML?

Do Entrepreneurs Dream of Electric XML?

Thinking Outside the VC
is a fantastic, almost Philip K.
, essay by an unnamed SOA Web Services Journal writer. It’s on one of my
favourite themes, the virtual office. Among the things discussed is “the momentary
enterprise”, defined as a temporary business that leverages “pervasive data”. It seems to
support Evan Williams’
recent list
of rules for start-ups, where the number 1 rule is to be super-focused –
i.e. a specialist and not a generalist. 

In the SOA article, I particularly liked this description of how and why XML is a
crucial part of the ‘momentary enterprise’:

“XML formatting allows proprietary databases and records to now have a nearly
universal method for describing their contents. One does not need to be a sophisticated
programmer who understands how to read a “schema” document or how to encode SQL
statements to make sense of XML statements. A computer-literate teen could happen upon an
XML fragment and derive some sense from it. He or she could likely import it into a
favorite spreadsheet package and sort or average or trend it with a few keystrokes.

Business back ends are now XML-crazy. Information that needs to be expressed to
another computer system is now expressed in some XML format. Most significantly, XML
enables far higher business-to-business cooperation that is squarely aligned with the
Web’s chief goal: information exchange (as opposed to data exchange). XML has been
enthusiastically embraced by business and allows for significant efficiency gains and
better customer experiences. We will see XML reaching into the consumer world and our
homes as well via wired and wireless appliances, for example. For the momentary
enterprise, XML is the magic glue that allows vast sources of data and internetworking
infrastructure – from PDAs to wireless video cameras – to share information.”

That’s got to be the best description of XML I’ve read this year. It captures the
simplicity and ease-of-use of XML; its pervasiveness on the Web; and its utility to
computer networks, ‘users’, businesses and programmers alike. XML is the lingua franca of
our networked world.

The writer goes on to describe the web-based office, which
has been one of my main themes this year. The human part of this is what the author calls
a “matrix worker”, defined as a subject-matter expert in a particular area:

“Often these people prefer to work as independent consultants rather than full-time
employees. Technology and connectivity have truly allowed a great many of us to work
anywhere and everywhere, and at any time. As more and more people allow their skills to
be better published and exploited, a new form of professional – the “matrix worker” –
will emerge.”

I’m like a prototype matrix worker, I suppose. Along with millions of other people.
The great thing is this kind of working life is becoming more and more common. XML and
all the other technologies of our age – wireless, laptops, mobile phones, Voice over IP,
etc – are enabling many of us to work and create outside the box. Or should that be — in The Matrix?

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