Civilization is made of interop

Interop is the most precious thing.

Interop means that I can give you a text file, and you will have a program that can open it. Interop means you can pull into any gas station and put fuel in your car. Interop means you can give me $100 and I’ll give you my Knicks ticket, and when you go to the arena, they will let you in.

In each of these cases, text files, gasoline, pump nozzles, cash, tickets — you’re using the fact that long ago people agreed to do things the same way so that multiple vendors could provide a product or service. So an entire industry could develop. Interop is all around us, it’s why things work, when they do.

Imho they should teach interop in business school, because without it there would be no business. But when it comes to tech, people who are supposedly experts in business seem not to understand the first thing about it.

In the land of the web, the basis for interop is fragile. We have a few formats and protocols that make it work. Yet all around us are tech companies undermining it, far too many to list. You’d do better by asking which tech companies are doing anything to improve interop — there aren’t many.

Take a stand for interop. Not throwing out interop for something that will supposedly be much better some time in the future. When you have interop, protect it and nurture it, because it’s the least likely thing to happen. Once you let it go, it’s pretty much impossible to get it back.

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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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