Mashing up the enterprise, wiring the web

Mashups are lightweight and agile in two important ways. They rely on services that live on the WS-Lite end of the tolerance continuum, where recombination seems almost effortless. And they rely on AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) techniques to make deployment of responsive and richly interactive interfaces seem almost effortless.

In reality, of course, there's no free lunch. As Phil Wainewright pointed out, enterprises will always occupy a base camp at the WS-Heavy end of the tolerance continuum. Robust centralized services for managing identity, data, and business process are central to the mission of SOA. Mashups cannot and should not compromise that mission.

What they can do, however, and what I think they should do, is what Lotus Notes did for an earlier generation: empower user-driven innovation at the level of individuals, workgroups, and departments. [Full story at]

It's a delightful coincidence that this week's column, referencing Notes as a user innovation toolkit, appeared the day after Ray Ozzie's concept development team released the Live Clipboard technique he demoed at ETech.

Most of the chatter I've seen about Live Clipboard focuses on copying and pasting structured chunks among web pages or, with native platform support, to and from native applications. And it's appropriate to focus on this long-overdue capability.

But Live Clipboard also aims to be the wiring junction that regular folks will use to splice together service endpoints. Initially and appropriately, the examples of those endpoints are RSS feeds, but I hope it won't stop there.

Enterprise mashups were supposed to have been enabled by Windows 3.1, with its DDE (dynamic data exchange) and OLE (object linking and embedding) infrastructure. But pre-Web there wasn't a critical mass of endpoints. Now we're surrounded by swarms of endpoints, and the time is right.

This unfolding story has wonderful karmic symmetry.

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