Home Parakey: WebOS for Mom and Pop

Parakey: WebOS for Mom and Pop

Those of you who read John Milan’s insightful article on R/WW about the coming convergence of
Web apps and desktop apps, will be interested in a new development by Blake Ross – famous
in the Web world for co-founding Firefox. Blake has an intriguing new startup called
Parakey, which is going to be a WebOS for the masses. In a long IEEE Spectrum article, Blake describes
the product:

“As he describes it, from a user’s point of view, Parakey is “a Web
operating system that can do everything an OS can do.” Translation: it makes it
really easy to store your stuff and share it with the world. Most or all of Parakey will
be open source, under a license similar to Firefox’s.”

Readers of my ZDNet blog will be
familiar with my obsession earlier this year with the WebOS. There are a lot of small,
mostly European, startups building a
WebOS system
– a virtual desktop, if you will. Check out my WebOS market review from April, to
see some of the startups in this space. None of them have made any headway into the
mainstream market yet – in fact most are still building out beta versions of their
products. Let’s not forget also that Google (in particular) and Microsoft are very well
positioned to come stampeding into this market, like a herd of…. er, elephants.

Also I should note that the WebOS startups have banded together to create a community
called “WebOSApi”. Right now it’s a private mailing list – I tried to get in a while ago,
but they wouldn’t let me 🙂 So it’ll be interesting to see what comes of that and
whether Parakey is a member.

Here’s another key quote from the IEEE Spectrum article:

“Today, something like e-mail can involve two completely different experiences,
depending on whether or not you’re using the Web—Outlook versus Hotmail, for
example. A Parakey e-mail program, on the other hand, provides a single access point for
your mail, “unifying the desktop and the Web,” in Ross’s words. Parakey
is intended to be a platform for tools that can manipulate just about anything on your
hard drive—e-mail, photos, videos, recipes, calendars.”

Also Om Malik has some details about the
and Matt Mullenweg has a post too.

To use Parakey, you’ll need to download a small app onto your computer – which
essentially turns your computer into a local server, thus enabling offline access. Kind
of similar to how Dave Winer‘s Radio Userland blogging tool works. This
description could equally apply to Radio Userland:

“…everything is ultimately stored locally, your computer being synchronized with
remote servers whenever you are online. “You never have to care about the uploading
process,” says Ross. “That just happens transparently.”

I’m looking forward to testing Parakey out. It sounds like it has the potential to
help bridge the current gap between Web and desktop applications, in an open source way.
I’m also interested in the reaction of the other WebOS vendors.

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