Redefining hackability

Technology trends obey certain predictable laws, among them that every action produces an equal and opposite reaction. So the recent backlash directed at AJAX and other "Web 2.0" technologies was no surprise. Nicholas Carr called Web 2.0 an "ecstatic vision" expressed in "the language of rapture."
If we scrape away the ecstasy and rapture, can we find sound principles? Yes, but some of them need to escape the orbit of the O'Reilly alpha-geek subculture and colonize the wider IT universe. In particular, the notion of hackability -- a prime article of faith in the subculture -- is in dire need of a makeover.
If there's a principled argument to be made here, it needs to fly a different flag. How about Democratizing Innovation? [Full story at]

I have mentioned Eric von Hippel before. His recent book on user innovation toolkits resonates very deeply for me. In this column I suggest that software delivered as a service through the web has some of the properties of such a toolkit.

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