CNN Newswatch.
October 30, 2002 12:22 PM   Subscribe

CNN Newswatch. Is this AOL's big entrance into the web services market? Is it a proprietary take on the microcontent client? They say it will make you a better person. But it sure looks like the old next big thing, Netscape Netcaster. Surely this technological leap puts AOL ahead of .Net in the Web Services market. Will Microsoft ever be able to offer a similar technology?
posted by putzface_dickman (20 comments total)
To answer your objections:
Yes, There is some sarcasm in there. It's what I do when I'm perplexed.
Yes, it is a marketing site with very little information, and a pop-up, but I think that AOL probably sees this as a big deal, as a web service, and as an innovation. Clearly they think they can charge money for it. Plus, it's all I found.

No, it doesn't have all of the features described in Anil's much Ballyhooed article. But I bet AOL worked out what it's "value proposition" is. Just like they figured out how much better myNetscape would be without RSS channels.

It used to be called Push technology, and Pointcast was supposed to own internet news.

I posted this in hopes of finding cogent analysis of the future of web services and what they really might be. I expect people here might be worth talking with about this.

Alternately, you can lambast AOL. Pile on.

posted by putzface_dickman at 12:37 PM on October 30, 2002

One of the cool things about Metafilter is that I end up finding nifty things to read that I'd never have specified in some sort of automatic filtering system. Yes, there are certain topics that I'm already interested in, but there are many, many more topics that I don't know that I care about until I read a well-written article about them.

This CNN Newswatch thing seems to just be an update (or perhaps a delayed response to) Yahoo's personalized news page.
posted by Vidiot at 12:45 PM on October 30, 2002

Is this CNN Newswatch thing a Web Service? That is, a programmatic interface made available through the www for communication between different apps ?

All I can see is a sophisticated newsticker. I don't see how this puts AOL in front of Microsoft in the web services market.
posted by falameufilho at 1:03 PM on October 30, 2002

Yeah, that thing looks a hell of a lot like Pointcast. I think that it ignores the possibility of collaborative serendipity, which is what MeFi and other sites enable by having similar minds suggest (either actively or passively) other pieces of information that you might be interested in. This is just shoveling their pre-determined feeds at you, which some people might be interested in.

Unfortunately, I think those people are all already consuming those pre-determined feeds by watching TV. If each of these pieces were available separately to be integrated into other contexts or applications, then this might have some interesting relevance to web services.
posted by anildash at 1:13 PM on October 30, 2002

Agreed with Vidiot that a customizable news feed is nothing new. CNN is just packaging a news portal with a bunch of feeds and some cheesy Flash marketing.

The really interesting stuff will come when we get to an architecture where all the news aggregators can connect to all the news feeds. If RSS or something like it made it possible for anyone to grab "microcontent" from any other site, then people can build new sites out of what's out there. Suddenly, all the content on the Web becomes your raw material, and anyone can add features to existing Web sites. Imagine if you didn't need to be a programmer in order to build something cool like MetaFilter Remixed or the MetaFilter Contribution Index.

Also agreed with falameufilho that this has nothing to do with Web Services. Web Services are really about integrating services (i.e., programs), not content. I've gotten burned in the past hoping too hard for a way to have any program call any other program on the Internet.

I'm guessing that Web Services will take another few years to develop inside the corporate firewall, where they will be used for application integration. Once every existing corporate app has a callable SOAP-style interface, only then can we start talking about hooking up services between companies in a big way. Maybe.

Long before then, marketing hype will have diluted the phrase "Web Services" so heavily that it will become meaningless. Meanwhile, the backlash has already begun.

Thanks for the post, putzface, it's always nice to discuss the Web here on MeFi. Maybe the politics discussions can move to CNN NewsFilter?
posted by fuzz at 1:24 PM on October 30, 2002

I wish I'd saved all of those magazines which explained how "push" was going to be the future of the internet.
posted by websavvy at 1:28 PM on October 30, 2002

I'm a .NET developer, and for the life of me, I can't figure out what it has to do with AOL, CNN, or the rest of this stuff. Does this guy just not understand web services, or did I miss something blindingly obvious?
posted by oissubke at 1:56 PM on October 30, 2002

FYI: From looking at the home page of the not-dearly departed PointCast, it seems they're providing the tech for this CNN thingy.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:10 PM on October 30, 2002

I think a "web service" needs to be cross platform in order to consider it as such. This does not qualify. Unless you can use it across browsers and operating systems and have it still work, it's not a web service, but an internet-enabled windows application.
posted by benjh at 2:59 PM on October 30, 2002

This is indeed nothing new, but bandwidth may be less of a problem these days. I think Weatherbug has been rather successful with their similar weather software
posted by gspira at 6:38 PM on October 30, 2002

I wish I'd saved all of those magazines which explained how "push" was going to be the future of the internet.

I have this one, which best captures that zeitgeist. It has even the good old motto "the web is dead, long live the web", which normally precedes a blatantly wrong prediction.
posted by falameufilho at 5:49 AM on October 31, 2002

So, apparently I need more than my comment about using sarcasm, the cruel cousin of irony.
The front page post is ironic. From beginning to end. Top to bottom. I thought that by documenting that this "technological leap" occurred in 1997, in no fewer than 3 of the links posted, that readers would recognize the ironic intent.
This is not the first time irony has been lost on Mefites.
I enter here - for the record since no one is listening anymore - a conversation with myself about this post:

Q: Do you even know what web services are?

A: I have some idea. This largely ignored Mefi post should offer some indication that I've heard of web services.

Q: Aren't web services strictly a way for applications to talk to one another, across platforms, across the internet.

A: Well, I think most peole who talk about the future and direction of web services include both the interoperability technologies like xml, soap, and wsdl AND the idea of the semantic web. I was also conflating these two ideas into a fairly commonly understood definition of web services.
posted by putzface_dickman at 8:19 AM on October 31, 2002

Q: What does CNNNewswatch have to do with web services?

A: Well, it has nothing to do with technologies like xml, soap, and wsdl, or even OWL.
It does, however, have a lot to do with Microsoft's .Net initiative, or Hailstorm, as they at one time envisioned it.
It also has a lot to do with what the future of the internet is going to look like, if you think ahead a few steps.
And it exposes something about AOL's strategies for competing with Microsoft in the web services future.

Q: What are you getting at?

A: Well, let me start like this: Once upon a time, Microsoft announced Hailstorm (now .Net), their bid to provide some diverse set of services to customers over the internet (an M2C business model, if you will). To date, they have shipped exactly 2 .Net services that customers can make use of over the internet.
Passport is one, in theory it's a single authentication ID for every website you do business on. It currently can be used on hotmail, msn, and e-bay. Not so different from other authentication methods in practice.

.Net Alerts is the other. You choose which news items that you'd like MSN messenger to throw in your face from time to time, and it will throw them at you from time to time.

AOL is the other big fish in the internet sea. They responded to both of these technologies. Your AOL, Compuserve, or Netscape screen name authenticates on any website in AOL's vast array of holdings, and they are all put under a vast Netscape branded umbrella. That's a few more sites than Passport. Also, they created AOL Alerts. Their messaging client can throw news in your face too.

Microsoft says they have to rethink their web services strategy. AOL releases CNNNewswatch.
posted by putzface_dickman at 8:19 AM on October 31, 2002

Q: What's your point?

A: The point is that making money by selling operating systems is going away. The operating system is becoming irrelevant in the bid to control computing's future. Ellison was right, the network is the computer. AOL and MS are fighting hard to be the company that provides you with the subscriptions to the services that you'll use to do your work. Word processing, contact management, calendar management, databases, news, and on, and on are all going to be modeled as services of some kind. And the real point is that both companies are pretty sure that they can charge for these things.

Q: Do these services match what the gearheads are calling Web services?

A: No.

Q: Well???

A: Well, first, AOL thinks that they can charge for this thing. This is the first step in these two giants trying to make the web a concentrated profit center for their companies. They are sure that if they throw out the right pitches, enough people are going to swing to make them a lot of money.

Secondly, AOL’s first pitch is nowhere near the strike zone. AOL is trying to compete with Microsoft using 5 year old technology that fell by the wayside because it was not worth paying for. Push died. Long live push. It was a flop, a failure, a sham, and one of the titans of the web thinks they can make money off of it.

Finally, I would put money on the fact that someone in AOL sees this as part of their web services strategy. Their concentration on community in their new release is, internally, I am sure, seen as a refocusing on web services. That’s all I’m sayin’.
posted by putzface_dickman at 8:21 AM on October 31, 2002

Forgive me for picking nits in an otherwise good analysis, but "The Network is the Computer" was McNealy, not Ellison.

As for the whole "charge for Web-delivered services" thing, I believe that it has to be proven in a business environment before it will work in a personal one. "Enterprise portals" and "B2E" are the relevant buzzwords here, and both of them have been generating some money in a bad recession, even though they are oversaturated and most of the companies playing there will die. IIRC, even Yahoo got into that game last year.

I definitely agree that individuals aren't going to pay anything for this. In fact, I think that only viable model will be for AOL and MSN to bundle more and more services into a basic subscription, in order to kill off the small players who find it easy to put up a single service.

As for the irony problem, it took me a while to figure out that the only way to communicate on MeFi is to say what you mean and nothing more.
posted by fuzz at 9:10 AM on October 31, 2002

Thanks fuzz. I thought it might be McNeally, but I couldn't remember which. I guessed ot was Ellison becuase I bought the set top box development environment, at least that's how they billed it, in 94 or 95 from Ellison's company. I associated my worthless purchase with that quote somehow.

Also, I think you're right on what they'll need to do. Interestingly, Apple is holding a better hand in this than many would guess.
posted by putzface_dickman at 11:16 AM on October 31, 2002

Hmm. reading this thread late, but putzface, I think you're a little off about Hailstorm being equal to .NET. Hailstorm was single-sign on and consumer services built on .NET technologies. .NET still lives (as oissubke can tell us), and is the next evolution of Microsoft's COM/DCOM/DNA Architecture (it's a set of server technologies and languages, like Content Management Server 2002 and Visual Basic) Hailstorm died when no one really trusted Microsoft enough to give them all their information (go figure) This is core to the confusion about Microsoft's WebServices strategy.

Just my take.
posted by rshah21 at 11:44 AM on October 31, 2002

Here's a consumer service branded as .Net Alerts. Hailstorm lost it's name and got pulled under the .Net umbrella. .Net does live, but not just in the way you point out. It's a floor wax and a dessert topping.
posted by putzface_dickman at 11:54 AM on October 31, 2002

IOW, you're right rshah, but so am I.
posted by putzface_dickman at 11:56 AM on October 31, 2002

Putzface_dickman leads the pack with 8 of 19 comments...
posted by websavvy at 12:06 PM on October 31, 2002

« Older Halloween Eve -   |   Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments