aku-aku: v.. To move a tall, flat bottomed object (such as a bookshelf) by swiveling it alternatively on its corners in a "walking" fashion. [After the book by Thor Heyerdahl theorising the statues of Easter Island were moved in this fashion.] source: LangMaker.com. Aku Aku also has another meaning to the islanders: a spiritual guide.
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prediction: agents make a comeback
Posted by dav at 2005 April 27 03:19 PM
File under: Thoughts

A year ago, when I was talking to people at conferences or those ubiquitous Bay Area techie mixers, if the conversation turned to programming languages (which it was wont to do) I would say "Javascript is the next hot programming language." People would look at me as if I had just said "gopher is going to be huge."

What I was talking about was how a few web sites like the nascent gmail.com were using some really nice Javascript wizardry to create pages that seemed incredibly more interactive than traditional HTML web pages. It's pretty obvious now, especially since the wizardry was given a name, AJAX, back in February.

It's not often I spot things like that, I'm not one of those trend-tracking types. I can actually be quite myopic: I was around the third person to add a link to del.icio.us back on September 17th 2003 (I just happened to be hanging out in the same irc channel as Joshua when he unveiled it). I totally didn't get it. I added a few links and forgot about it until December when suddenly it was the new huge thing (and by then, with more than a handful of links and three users in it, the power of "tags" was apparent).

But despite a mixed record I'd like to make another prediction now.

Just as Push came back as RSS, and Javascript came back as AJAX, I believe that Agents are finally going to have their day in the sun. They probably won't be called agents, but what I predict it that ordinary users are going to be given the capability to write scripts that execute on the remote servers of whatever service they are using. I realize this isn't exactly what Agents were intended to be, but AJAX and RSS aren't exactly Javascript and Push either, so just go with it.

Traditionally this wouldn't have worked, but the power of open source and enabled edge users is starting to sink into the general Net culture. People will write and share these scripts with each other. Host services will work to make them run efficiently because user's will demand it. It's win-win because the users will be creating new features for the service which they will enjoy and enhances the service for everyone. It's going to be beautiful.

For instance, I would write a script for Flickr that would create photo albums on the fly using specific users' streams and specific combination of tags (a bit like SmartAlbums in iPhoto). I could do this using some complex conditions. A script would be able to do anything I could do as a normal user through the point and click normal web interface, but it would be automated and running on Flickr's servers.

I will further go out on a limb and predict that Ruby on Rails is going to enable this in the beginning (although Google could start the engine on this one too). This is just a gut feeling, I've got no real reason to believe this, but I can feel it.

So there ya go, let's check back in a couple of years and see if I'm prescient or nutty.


Yup, I feel it too. And I'm already talking to people doing it... and yup, search engine mechanisms and tags play a big role... and natrual language processing... and XML...

I just wish people wrapped their heads around the Semantic Web idea more... cause that would drive this one to the moon and back... :)

Step one? "Hello? Related tags? Yes I'd like you to tell me what the web thinks of "poutine"... aha, thanks..."

Alot can be infered from data objects and relationships between them... including data objects and relationships... ;)

Posted by: Boris Anthony on April 27, 2005 05:43 PM

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