December 30, 2005

Intel Wayside

I normally don't talk about chip manufacturers, but today's article in the New York Times, "Intel Plans to Shift Focus to Consumer Products," is unfortunate in how it lacks context.

Because, in reading it, you'd never know that Intel has tried this before (at least once) and failed. Miserably.

A look back into the archive demonstrates efforts beginning in 1999 to have Intel be a brand for the "home." In 1997, they were part of an exhibition called "Cyberhome 2000," demonstrating a home of the future with Intel Inside.

I've never been a fan of Times' technology reporter John Markoff, and stories such as this demonstrate why. He's covered the industry long enough to know that Intel has tried and failed repeatedly, but for some reason doesn't see fit to include any mention of this in his piece.

Which leads me to wonder, what makes Intel think they can succeed this time, when they haven't been able to be a convincing consumer products brand in the past?

Posted by peterme at 08:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 27, 2005

Eating away from below: what's happening to enterprise software

Though definitely not as sexy to talk about as tagging, and mashups, and whom Yahoo acquired today, I think that the trends we're witnessing in enterprise software will have a far greater impact than much of what's being discussed.

And the most obvious trend is that the enterprise software market is being eaten away from below. My favorite case in point is Movable Type, the software which enables me to publish this blog. With a few modifications, it enabled Adaptive Path to publish it's site. And then, as this post makes clear, with a fair bit of modification, it powers the site for SEED Magazine. What this demonstrates is what we've known all along -- Movable Type isn't a blog publishing tool -- it's a lightweight content management system. Blog publishing was essentially a trojan horse toward rethinking how to enable publishing on the Web.

In my world, content management systems (CMSes) have long been the enterprise software that has been the biggest pain in the ass to deal with. Typically modified from document management systems, these tools were big, bloated, unwieldy, expensive, and, most importantly, ill-suited to the task of publishing on the Web. What Movable Type did was start with the simple, and focus on supporting a true web-native genre, and then build up from there as need be.

Another enterprise hassle that I've been privy to are website analytics tools. These overblown metrics packages suffer all the same faults as CMSes. This was why I became so excited with the development of Measure Map -- it's site analytics "for the rest of us." Which could evolve into site analytics for all of us. It, too, has humble blog beginnings, because that's a well-bounded problem to solve. But it doesn't take much imagination to see how it can evolve.

And while website development is what I'm most familiar with, I know that this eating from below is happening all over. Companies are realizing that the millions they've spent on "knowledge management" systems got them little more than confusing document repositories. So folks like Socialtext can package a compellingly light tool of blogs and wikis, and sell it cheaply enough that it doesn't require budget approval from IT, and people can get their collaboration done without hassle.

And of course, has completely rewritten the game when it comes to customer relationship management, and sales support software.

Through various projects with Adaptive Path, I've talked to a lot of people tasked with purchasing enterprise software. And, universally, no one likes doing it. No one likes talking to enterprise software salesfolks, no one likes the 3 to 6 months that the sales process takes, no one likes the 6 to 12 months that deployment takes, no one likes the costs, and almost no one likes the results. Enterprise software succeeded, though, because there weren't many other viable options.

That, of course, is changing. These smaller point solutions, systems that actually address the challenges that people face (instead of simply creating more problems of their own, problems that require hiring service staff from the software developers), these solutions are going to spread throughout organizations and supplant enterprise software the same way that PCs supplanted mainframes.

I sure wouldn't want to be working in enterprise software right now. Sure, it's a massive industry, and it will take a long time to die, but the progression is clear, and, frankly, inevitable.

Posted by peterme at 10:29 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

December 26, 2005

The Man With Two Brains

Just watched this again. I hadn't seen it since, I don't know, high school. GodDAMN is it funny. If you haven't seen it, you should. If you have, but it's been a while, see it again. The number of good, deep, quality laughs is phenomenal. Steve Martin is phenomenal. Kathleen Turner is particularly phenomenal. And it has plenty of good ol' David Warner, who needs to get more better parts these days.

It is such a deliriously demented and silly film. And I think it's been shamefully overlooked.

Posted by peterme at 08:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Heel-toe Histories

This morning I finished The Trouble with Tom, a necrologue of Thomas Paine's bones (and the black lump that was once his brain). It is an excellent work -- inquisitive, insightful, funny, pleasantly digressive. Paul follows Tom's bones from New York to England (and all over England), and in doing so, uncovers a variety of 19th century revolutionary thought. Some of the book is laugh-out-loud funny (his excursions on EB Foote's books for children, which he also wrote about for the Village Voice), other parts are delightfully illuminating (the excellent mini-biography of Moncure Conway, beginning with Paul's poring over his effects in the Columbia Library, and ending with Conway living in Britain, too upset over the Civil War to call the United States his home), and the whole is continually thought-provoking.

What struck me, as I read the book, is how it reminded me of Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation (and I wasn't the only one...) In both, the authors explicitly retrace the steps of their historic subjects, and aren't afraid of using their personal modern-day experiences to shed light on what's past. Another book in my queue, Chuck Klosterman's Killing Yourself to Live, apparently follows a similar path.

In much the same way as the first years of this decade saw the rise of the "mundane studies," typified by Mark Kurlansky's Salt, and books with subjects from mirrors to mauve, it feels like we're now entering an era of what I've decided to call Heel-toe Histories.

These nouveau historians aren't satisfied with simply poring over documents, but instead crave some degree of authenticity that these places can provide. I suppose their insertion of themselves in the stories hearkens to the New Journalism movement of the 60s. Such works seem easier to produce, thanks to a world of cheap airfares and extensive online travel planning.

Some more links:
Paul Collins is the proprietor of the Collins Library for McSweeneys
He has a blog.
And there's a good recent interview with him.

Posted by peterme at 03:58 PM | TrackBack


See Me Travel
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
Archives from June 13, 2001 to January 2003
Archives from before June 13, 2001
Recent Entries
Intel Wayside
Eating away from below: what's happening to enterprise software
The Man With Two Brains
Heel-toe Histories
Subscribe to my feed:
Powered by
Movable Type 3.2