Who Gets Through the Help Wanted Door?

Should Web services requests eliminate all but the very best?

The folks at Google are getting a lot of attention lately with their in-your-face recruiting of the worlds most competitive geeks. The companys billboards ask mathematical questions whose answers are URLs that lead to job-applicant Web sites; its pull-out Aptitude Tests appear in more than one of the magazines that I get at home.

As CommerceNet Fellow Adam Rifkin has observed, Google had better hope for a vigorous response, because the company will need a lot of smart and hard-working people to live up to Web designer Jason Kottkes April prediction that the company will be "the biggest and most important company in the world in 5-8 years." That stems from a view of Google, not as mere search engine, but as a versatile services platform thats backed by huge amounts of exceptionally cost-effective computation: Kottke, in turn, points to Topix.net founder/CEO Rich Skrentas April characterization of Google as "the worlds biggest computer and most advanced operating system."

If your memory is really good, you may recall that I said something along these lines in May of last year, calling Google "the operating system for a worldwide network of loosely coupled machines and databases." Ive since discovered, I feel obligated to note, that publisher Tim OReilly arguably got there a year before I did with his Emerging Technology Conference theme of "the emergent Internet operating system." What can I say, I thought Id had an original idea. But let us go on.

If Google needs so many people to work on its to-do list, why is it putting so many barriers in front of its "Help Wanted" portal? The answer is that the company would rather turn away a dozen people who might have worked out than hire just one who turns out to be toxic to the organization. As JotSpot CEO Joe Kraus notes in his entrepreneurship blog, Bnoopy, "A players hire A players, B players hire C players, and C players hire losers. Let your standards slip once and youre only two generations away from death."

Should this be the doctrine that informs a Web services marketplace? Is it better, when searching for service candidates, to reject a dozen might-have-beens rather than letting a single unsatisfactory candidate get through? We talk about a vision of Web services enabling a dynamic marketplace of changing needs and competing service offerings, instead of being merely a standards-based technology of static application integration: Are we going to "hire" services in the highly selective style of a Google or, for that matter, a Microsoft? Or are we going to come up with mechanisms of identifying, evaluating, and qualifying and rejecting candidates that are continually open to new entrants?

This seems like an important question, as such major Web presences as Amazon join Google in the competition for the role of next-generation application platform. Amazon itself is building on its own services foundation to enter new markets, as well as offering that foundation to others. The next generation of the Web, its clear, is going to be defined by the competition among different ways of delivering on this vision.

Tell me what you see in the future of the Web as platform at peter_coffee@ziffdavis.com.

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