The IT Strategy Letter
Doug Kaye, RDS Strategies LLC
January 6, 2004 (Subscribe)

In this issue:

And now...Transcripts! Personally, I enjoy listening to interviews. I like hearing the the subtleties that I can only get from people in their own voices. But many of you prefer to read, and there are certainly times when a hard copy is more convenient than an MP3 file. Some of our subscribers are hearing impaired, while others don't have the hardware, the headset, or the privacy they need to listen to IT Conversations. Still others find listening too fast, too slow, or they just like to be in control of the rate at which they absorb information.

I'm therefore excited to announce that IT Conversations are now available as printable text transcripts. The two latest interviews (David Weinberger and Eben Moglen) have already been transcribed and posted, and we're working our way through the archives to bring you the rest. Previous IT Conversations for which transcripts are already available include the following:

Posted Tuesday, December 16, 2003 12:17:28 AM

David Weinberger: The Dean Campaign and the Internet. [A new IT Conversation] This co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto was deeply depressed for two years before he discovered the presidential campaign of Howard Dean. Today, he's the campaign's Senior Internet Advisor.

Hear why David believes the Dean campaign has been so successful with its use of the Internet. You need to "let go of your message," he says. It's not about communicating the top-down message-of-the-day, the traditional way to run a campaign. Instead it's about "getting out of the picture and enabling people to link up--in the real world, especially."

Why would the Dean campaign offer a tool that lets people print posters containing any message they want? Why have they found it's better to offer simple linear comments on their blog instead of supporting threaded messages? And what will happen if Dean gets all the way to the White House? How might he use the Internet, and how might the rest of us change what we expect from our candidates and elected officials?

A printable transcript of this interview is also available.
Posted Tuesday, December 16, 2003 12:17:28 AM

Eben Moglen: SCO v. IBM. [A new IT Conversation] In 1992, he "signed on for the duration of the revolution" as the unpaid general council of Richard Stallman's Free Software Foundation. Now we hear Eben Moglen's perspectives on the SCO Group's litigation against IBM.

What's SCO CEO Darl McBride's real motivation? Eben suggests, "SCO's job here was to raise its stock price and merely having a contract and trade secret lawsuit against IBM was not likely to raise its stock price much." Hence SCO's demands that Linux users pay SCO a license fee.

But is SCO caught in a Catch-22? By demanding that others now accept additional license terms, are they violating the GPL license under which they themselves distributed Linux? "How can you maintain a trade secret lawsuit...if you yourself are giving away to everybody under a license that says they can freely copy, modify and distribute it, the very same thing you are claiming is a secret?"

Listen in to hear what Eben thinks about the future of infringement indemnification for open-source software such as is being offered by Hewlett Packard. And what about that $10,000,000 "license fee" from Microsoft? "Microsoft whatever else may be its interest in this situation has made perfectly clear that it dislikes the GPL."

In this fascinating IT Conversation, we also speculate on the involvement of SCO's counsel, David Boies, who became famous for arguing Bush v. Gore in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as representing the U.S. against Microsoft. Boies previously represented IBM, and Eben suggests, "He got into SCO because it was an opportunity for him to go up against the client and the firm from which he began his career." But has Boies become disillusioned with the SCO case? "He has not made a public appearance. He has not argued in court on behalf of the client. He has not signed any papers." (And don't miss how Eben believes Boies managed to lose the U.S. presidential election for Al Gore.)
Posted Saturday, December 20, 2003 2:25:27 PM

Gilchrist: Syndicated Audio Messaging with RSS. Harold Gilchrist is working on an RSS-based protocol for audioblogging. I want to be able to subscribe to audioblogs and other audio delivered by RSS, but I want an RSS reader that automatically downloads the audio into iTunes folders for one-click downloading into my iPod. I want to just pickup my iPod as I'm running out the door, and discover all the blogs and programs I subscribe to already neatly organized, ready to listen to. (I also wish the iPod had a way to mark tracks as having been read, so I could tell it to just play or show new material.)
Posted Thursday, December 18, 2003 11:19:29 PM

Plamondon: An Interview with Kent Beck. Here's a good interview with the father of eXtreme Programming (XP) by Scott Plamondon on the IBM developerWorks site. Kent describes how he developed the initial concepts behind XP, when he got involved in a disastrous payroll project for Chrysler.

"So, I said that at the end of the first three weeks we'll print a live, cashable check. They said that's impossible -- we must import data from 18,000 systems. I asked if there was one person whose check we could print. 'Well, for most people it's not that difficult.' After three weeks, we printed a live check with correct data. They framed it and put it on the wall. That's the XP creation myth."

Whether you listen to Beck (XP) or Steve McConnell (in The Software Project Survival Guide), the concept is one I've learned over and over again in my own 27 years in IT management: Don't use a big-bang process of monolithic phases of requirements, design, implementation, test, etc. It virtually always fails. Instead, you've got to use similar but much smaller phases, and execute them over and over again. Call it "iterated" or "staged" development, the concept is the same. Start with the simplest case and run it all the way through your process -- all the way to production-code execution. Otherwise you won't get a chance to exercise your late-phase processes until it's too late. You'll never know if they'll succeed. (They won't and you won't have time to fix them.)

Perhaps my favorite example is when I took over the management of the development of the web site in 1998. It was a four-month project, which I was asked to join just two weeks before the scheduled launch. (Yeah, they were in deep trouble.) The team had never run a single byte of code on the llive servers, and they'd never tried to port the code from the development environment to production. They should have been pushing new "releases" on a daily basis from the very beginning. Needless to say, the code wouldn't port, and to correct the problem required some fundamental re-engineering.

Buy me a glass of wine some time, and I'll tell you the rest of the story. It's a good one.
Posted Sunday, December 28, 2003 2:19:13 AM

Spolsky: Eric Raymond. In a no-holds-barred essay entitled "Biculturalism" Joel Spolsky explores the cultural differences between the Unix and Windows cultures by way of a review of Eric Raymond's latest book, The Art of UNIX Programming.

Joel: 'Unix culture values code which is useful to other programmers, while Windows culture values code which is useful to non-programmers...When Unix was created and when it formed its cultural values, there were no end users.'

Joel: 'The very fact that the Unix world is so full of self-righteous cultural superiority, "advocacy," and slashdot-karma-whoring sectarianism while the Windows world is more practical ("yeah, whatever, I just need to make a living here") stems from a culture that feels itself under siege, unable to break out of the server closet and hobbyist market and onto the mainstream desktop. This haughtiness-from-a-position-of-weakness is the biggest flaw of The Art of UNIX Programming, but it's not really a big flaw: on the whole, the book is so full of incredibly interesting insight into so many aspects of programming that I'm willing to hold my nose during the rare smelly ideological rants because there's so much to learn about universal ideals from the rest of the book.'

Despite Joel's harsh rant on what he refers to as Eric's rant, I recommend both Joel's essay and Eric's new book. I guarantee neither will bored you.
Posted Sunday, December 28, 2003 1:44:47 AM

Berlind: The Beginning of the End of Java As We Know It? "Microsoft couldn't have executed a better divide-and-conquer war plan than the one that's being handed to it on a silver platter." David Berlind writes that in a future dominated by vendor-independent web services standards, the divisive Sun-dominated Java world is a ball and chain around IBM, keeping it from otherwise competing with unencumbered Microsoft. [Source: ZDNet]

18 months ago I wrote an essay, Microsoft v. Java and Détente in which I similarly suggested that web services reduce the value of platform ownership to near zero. For instance, "As cell phones and PDAs become commodities, the value of device-resident software (such as operating systems, games, and other programs that run within the devices) will approach zero. Few people will pay more for a Java-based phone than for one that isn't. But the value of extra-cost and remotely hosted services for those devices will continue to increase. These services include mobile e-commerce (m-commerce), instant messaging (IM), location-based services (LBS) such as advertising-driven restaurant finders, and many others."
Posted Friday, December 26, 2003 4:56:14 AM

Kaye: Web Services in Your IDC. "Although most of the hype surrounding Web services is focused on e-commerce, web services are also finding their way into other less glamorous infrastructure applications. As we move into 2004, don't be surprised to see Web services becoming an important, if not yet highly visible, technology in your own data centers." [My December column for The Web Host Industry Review]
Posted Thursday, December 18, 2003 10:32:43 PM

Loosely Coupled--Now Available as a PDF (at a 63% Discount)


  • Entire book: US$14.95
  • Major parts (4 total): US$5.95 each
  • Individual chapters (21 total): US$1.95 each

As an alternative to the hardcopy edition, you can now download my latest book in PDF format at a substantial discount using PayPal or BitPass. From the time you purchase the eBook version, you have 7 days during which you can download the content up to 10 times. The PDF files can be printed, but the text cannot be copied or modified. Review of the Week:

"This book provides an excellent explanation of why companies should be looking at Web services. It approaches the topic with an honest and straightforward description of the problem space Web services are targeted to address and the characteristics/short comings of those technologies as they exist today and as they are expected to evolve. Perfect for IT decision makers who are evaluating how/where Web services fit in their corporate IT strategy."

--James Snell, IBM, author Programming Web Services with SOAP
(Read more reviews.)

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The IT Strategy Letter is published weekly by RDS Strategies LLC. Much -- but not all -- of the content is published earlier in Doug Kaye's weblogs.



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"...essential reading for anyone seeking to deploy this technology."

--John Hagel, III,
management consultant
and author of
"Out of the Box"


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