Best and Worst of Messaging & Collaboration in 03

2003 won't likely go down as a banner year for either messaging or collaboration, writes eWEEK's Steve Gillmor.

2003 wont likely go down as a banner year for either messaging or collaboration. Much has been made of the unilateral nature of President Bushs Iraq conflict, and blended threat viruses repeatedly brought e-mail to its knees. But behind the scenes, collaboration technologies such as Groove accelerated our military effectiveness, and 2003 saw the emergence of syndication technologies as a disruptive force across the technology world.

Here, then, are ten of the best, and the worst, of 2003:

RSS—Whether it stands for RDF Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication, or even if its called Atom, RSS has a chance to remake the desktop as its collaboration and messaging center. Its the first killer app of the XML revolution, the DVR of the Web—and once you switch, youll never go back to the plain old browser.

iSight/iChatAV—Apple finally does IP videoconferencing right. Cleverly embedded inside the Macs new Panther OS X operating system and its iChat instant messaging client, iChatAV leverages your AOL Buddy list for point-to-point videoconferences around the world. The secret sauce: sophisticated noise-canceling algorithms that erase distracting echoes and eliminate the need for headphones.

Hydra—An OS X open-source project that allows networked sharing of document creation and editing. Another Mac technology that leverages the powerful Rendezvous system service, Hydra was used to great effect at the OReilly Emerging Technology conference to generate real-time transcripts of conference sessions.

Technorati—The Google of the Blogosphere. The service crunches link data from more than a million blogs and news feeds. Today, it turns the one-way Web into a conversation; tomorrow, it will filter your personalized set of trusted RSS feeds at the core of the RSS information router.

RSS goes to Harvard—When RSS founding father Dave Winer transferred control of RSS 2.0 to Harvards Berkman Law School, he converted syndication politics into a collaborative debate about the technologies rather than the personalities. Well, mostly. This profoundly generous gift is one of many Winer and other XML warriors have contributed to the Web services revolution.

Longhorn—Its the modern-day triple play: Avalon to Indigo to WinFS. It may take forever to get here (can you say Cairo, or Forms +), but Bill Gates is nearing the homestretch with his Universal Canvas vision of our digital future. The unified storage system meets the universal canvas, but whether its on a Tablet or an Xbox remains to be seen.

Office System Professional/OneNote/Infopath—The keyword here is Professional, which bundles not only InfoPaths powerful XML forms authoring tool but user-definable XML schema support (see below for the versions that dont.) It should bundle OneNote as well, rev it to turn on XML support, and replace Outlook as the RSS information router at the core of Office. Ask Jim Allchin why not.

Sun licensing model—You may argue whether Sun has a chance against Office with its Java Desktop System (JDS), but theres no doubt McNealy and software chief Jonathan Schwartz have altered the enterprise licensing landscape with their $100-a-seat licensing model. The real game-changer: thats per employee, not user, internal and external. A hundred or a million—same price. Its a marriage made in heaven for Web services, an eBay, an Amazon, a or even a virtual McDonalds. "Over a billion served" takes on a new meaning for the bean counters.

NetNewsWire—My RSS weapon of choice on my platform of choice, the Mac. Once you try it, youll fall in love with it. And Ill stay married to it as long as author Brent Simmons continues to add information router features—persistent storage, embedded browser rendering, enclosures, a plug-in API for services from Technorati, search engines and rich media renderers.

Camera phones—I could have gone with the iPod here, but my Nokia 3650 is being used via Bluetooth to send this column in from my cabin on our cruise of the Caribbean. The pictures are blog-ready, and the speaker phone lets me record interviews with my iPod recorder module. Wait a minute, theres the iPod again. Convergence matters.

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