Towards development of an Internet Operating System

In Essays on 2010-04-01 by Kyle Maxwell Tagged: , ,

Alien Organics (Smoke "Art") by PixelPlacebo

This follows on my link yesterday to Richard Hamming’s talk on research and the idea that, to do great work, you must work on great problems.

I read with great interest Tim O’Reilly’s extensive and thoughtful essay on The State of the Internet Operating System.

(The rest of this post just consists of my own musings on his article.)

Moving away from the operating systems for individual computers (e.g. Linux, Windows, Plan 9, etc.), he talks about higher levels of abstraction needed for the sorts of infrastructure services we build today. O’Reilly outlines some needed subsystems, like:

  • Search
  • Communications
  • Identity and the Social Graph
  • Payment
  • Activity Streams
  • Time
  • Image and Speech Recognition

He also rejects the idea of the browser as OS and muses on additional things this sort of infrastructure platform might need, like synchronization and garbage collection.

I wish he’d addressed privacy and security a little more explicitly, though a few of his issues touch on this tangentially. But the concept — application developers using APIs or some analogue thereof to accomplish these tasks rather than redeveloping over and over — has obvious worth.

Do the things I do contribute to the development of the “new world infrastructure”? Or am I just tinkering with irrelevancies? The stuff I do tends towards the operational rather than developmental, but I don’t know that I will stay in this mode. My immediate future will stay in incident response and security, since that pays the bills pretty well and has lots of value in itself.

But I’ve also started chewing on Hamming’s idea to slightly shift fields of focus every seven(ish) years, and this article just fed right into it. I need to go brew this stuff in my head together with everything else I’ve dumped into my brain lately so that I can figure some things out for my own future.


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