From infinite extensibility to infinite interoperability

Jeff Whatcott, Acquia's VP of marketing, wrote an interesting blog post about the term content management system, Microsoft SharePoint 2007, and Drupal's opportunity to be the poster child for the social software market space.

The funny thing is that I replied to Jeff's post back in 2006. In 2006, I agreed with Jeff -- and I still agree with Jeff today -- that (i) the term 'content management system' under sells what Drupal is capable of, (ii) that content management systems are consolidating to community and collaboration platforms, and (iii) that SharePoint is mind-boggling in more than one way.

From a content management system's point of view, we can summarize the current state of affairs as:

Web 1.0 = content management
Web 2.0 = Web 1.0 + user management + infinite extensibility

Jeff said it best when he wrote: the genius of what the [Drupal] community has done is to reduce all of the aspects of social software to their core DNA: content nodes and membership, and then build a platform that could be infinitely extended to allow the assembly of almost any styles of online social interaction.

But while Jeff rightfully sees a business opportunity for the Drupal community in the social publishing market, I tend to worry more about the fact that Drupal's key differentiator (i.e. bundling a wide variety of functionality into a single platform) becomes a commodity.

I want the Drupal community to stay ahead of the competition. I want to start implementing today what proprietary CMS vendors will implement in 2013. From a content management system's point of view, I believe, that means (and I really hate to use the term 'Web 3.0'):

Web 3.0 = Web 2.0 + infinite interoperability

which roughly translates to:

Web 3.0 = Web 2.0 + data portability + web service APIs

While the short-term business opportunity might be to go after the social publishing market, I strongly believe that the long-term business opportunity lies in the infinite interoperability and that spans well beyond the social software market.

Thanks to Open Source software and companies like Google, the cost of building Web 2.0 applications will approach zero. Contrary to what one might think, this actually creates a lot of business opportunities. Opportunities that are best monetized through web services. But for that to happen, ubiquitous and seamless interoperability is key.

Comments

Stephen Adkins (not verified):

Hi,

Great vision for Drupal.

I've long championed the collaboration and community aspects of the web, and I am a recent convert to Drupal as the right tool to realize these notions.

I have been active in the DataPortability Workgroup at

http://www.dataportability.org,

promoting collaborative and interoperable standards like OpenID, XFN, microformats (hCard), FOAF, SIOC, etc. I also am coordinating the SharedUniverse Project to integrate and host the best of freely available Drupal modules into a Social Networking interoperability showcase.

http://www.shareduniverse.net

I also think there's a huge opportunity for the Drupal community here, so I think a talk at DrupalCon in Boston about user freedom and the need for data and service portability would be great.

http://boston2008.drupalcon.org/session/software-freedom-online-world-id...

I would like to help and be a part of where Drupal goes in Social Networking. I have asked about (or suggested) a Social Networking BOF at DrupalCon to chart a course for the community on the matter.

http://groups.drupal.org/node/8637

Go Drupal.

Stephen Adkins
spadkins *at* gmail.com

February 9, 2008 - 03:01
Bockereyer (not verified):

I'm kicking in an open door, I know.

The possibilities of Drupal are only limited by the limitations of the minds of the Drupal community members.

If you look there are opportunities everywhere to put Drupal into good use. I use Drupal for small and medium size businesses. It's perfect software for me.

There is no reason to limit the use of Drupal to the social software.

February 10, 2008 - 22:07
mixel (not verified):

How many people would understand:

Web 3.0 = Web 2.0 + data portability + web service APIs

I guess it requires already a technical understanding. Lucky for me one of my students is doing a Drupal web service integration with Flex. However I wonder if the focus is not to technical. Like many definitions of Web 2.0 being AJAX, that is a bit narrow. Similar, I've guess the term "web service" quite technical. Lately I've been using a variant "service on the web" to put the attention more on the business (or community) perspective.

I belief Drupal is the most fit system to build "services on the web". I like the power of how its architecture allows generic approach. Like CCK creating Views fields, or API that allow cross cutting control. I guess this will be similar with the "web service API". There is for example the view relation with web service, sadly I didn't had the time to dig into it yet.

The opportunities for "infinite interoperability" internal to the Drupal system may be incredible. I see it related to your talk where you want to "cut out the middle man" (designer, programer, etc). I guess the best known example is Zacks google maps mashup. I've been able to "cut out" some functionalities as well, by using CCK with Views and a generic access model (own development) to created (as admin) a "private message".

I guess the CCK and Views are so popular as they allowed doing something that most users couldn't even dreamed of. I belief one of the hardest things to overcome is becoming convinced a generic system for service on the web can be possible. Still it is something for long term. Only 3 of the 10 features will be related to expanding the Drupal framework, that will allow much time for reflection.

February 14, 2008 - 10:26
Aral Balkan (not verified):

Hi Dries,

I'm so happy to hear that this is your vision for the future of Drupal. I'm considering moving the web site for Singularity '08 to Drupal for this very reason (social network portability is a big concern for me for the conference, as it is an online web conference). I feel we can use Drupal for the site and have the final Flex application use the same database during the conference.

Along the same lines, I wonder if there isn't a session in this? Would you be interested in presenting on Drupal and data portability at Singularity?

February 17, 2008 - 18:32

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