Oldies but Goodies: The Network Really Is the Computer

I was looking for a reference in something I’d written earlier, and happened to see this paragraph from my 2000 keynote at JavaOne, The Network Really Is the Computer:

If you believe me that open source is about Internet-enabled collaboration, rather than just about a particular style of software license, you’ll open a much larger tent. You’ll see the threads that tie together not just traditional open source projects, but also collaborative “computing grid” projects like SetiAtHome, user reviews on Amazon.com, technologies like collaborative filtering, new ideas about marketing such as those expressed in The Cluetrain Manifesto, weblogs, and the way that Internet message boards can now move the stock market. What started out as a software development methodology is increasingly becoming a facet of every field, as network enabled conversations become a principal carrier of new ideas.

It’s worth noting for two reasons:

  1. Even now, a lot of people don’t see the connection between Web 2.0 and open source.
  2. This connection reminds us how we can often see the shape of the future by thinking hard about the behavior of early adopters.

I came to my formulations about Web 2.0 because I was thinking about what open source really meant, and how the deep trends would play out over time, as they spread beyond the open source software development community and other pioneers. What else can we see now in the behavior of today’s early adopters? That’s the next set of questions.