Thread: Let people use different editors, browsers, let them hook in their own back-ends.

A picture named cowboy.gifA surprising piece by Kevin Kelleher in Pando about lock-in on corporate platforms. It’s surprising because none of the California tech blogs have been looking at the possibility that the corporate platforms might not be a permanent fixture. And Pando has been one of the most conservative, imho. It’s great to see them look in this direction.

Eventually the lock-in will break. It would be smart for one of the platforms to decide that as a business strategy they’ll try to create an open platform with replaceable components. Let people use different editors, browsers, let them hook in their own back-ends. Create a real ecosystem, with freedom, constructed the same way the web is, using formats and protocols that already exist, where ever possible. This really can work.

They would be promising to compete on quality, performance, features and price, not lock-in. It’s really the honest way to go, and lots of industries work this way. For example, I can buy a Ford, Toyota, BMW or Smart car — and drive on the same roads and use the same fuel. Everything is interchangeable about them except the key that gets me in and starts the engine. It’s a good model for how our communication systems should work, at all levels.

Products like Twitter or Instagram are providing useful features, they really don’t need to lock their users in. They will possibly survive this transition, if they’re flexible when it happens. There’s lots of examples of past transitions to study for possible strategies.

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About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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