Excerpts from a Washington Post online chat with Marc Andressen (ex-Netscape, now Opsware):
[RSS] is *a* future of distributing information :-). It’s a very useful approach (this is the idea that you read “feeds” of content that are pushed to you, rather than browsing and searching). It’s kind of Pointcast done right, for those of us who remember the late, not-much-lamented Pointcast from the late 90’s. Plus the approach will work for a lot of other things too like being notified of auction results, new products, new classified ad listings, or whatever. It will work very well and lots of people will use it and the aggregators and software that are designed to support it but it won’t replace browsing or searching, I don’t think…It’s a good example of how the Internet keeps changing — since the Internet is built on software, a new software approach like RSS can change how we think of the Internet without requiring anyone to rewire any networks. That’s what I really like about the Internet. First it was email, then web, then IM, then Napster/Kazaa, then Apple iChat, now RSS… one thing after another after another…
I think in the long run Opsware might be as important as Netscape. Opsware is all about helping people who run — or want to run — big Internet sites, services, systems, applications do that at large scale, with a utility computing model, with a much higher level of quality and reliability and much lower cost. As a result our customers (media companies, banks, Internet companies, government agencies, outsourcers) are able to run a lot more Internet services for a lot more people for much less money. Because of that, we think our approach can help the Internet grow a lot faster over the next 10 years than it would otherwise.
I think the key is that there’s no such thing as “tech” anymore — it’s really a matter of individual markets and individual products…My point is that even though you know that happened, you still can’t draw any useful conclusions about what’s happening in technology without looking at individual products and markets. Look at what’s happened in the last 5 years…
* 400+ million new people on the Internet
* Tens of millions of new people on broadband in the US alone
* Mobile phone sales have risen dramatically to 600 million units/year, and mobile phones have become color, with cameras, with MP3 players, wireless data access, etc.
* Linux has become real and widely adopted
* Open source as a whole has taken off dramatically
* Salesforce.com has proven out a whole new model of delivering software to businesses
etc. etc. etc.
If you don’t look at the individual product categories and markets, you miss what’s actually going on….