Web 2.0 Startups ... Seriously, how many startups per week are sending out press releases like
Wallyport is a new social networking convergence service, currently in invitation-only alpha testing. This product aggregates Web 2.0 functionality, tools, creativity and a portal for converging business with user generated content. The premise is to offer diverse services where individuals, groups and businesses can take advantage of proximity and community.
Can anyone take this seriously? How many MySpace, Beebo, Facebook, Twitter clones does the world really need? How many Youtube clones? How many search engines? Why do thousands of "me too" startups get funded?* And who wants to work in one? "We're Youtube ... with voice chat!" Spare me.
There are so many interesting and challenging problems out there. For example, a hundred startups trying different approaches to parallel programming could actually be a useful contribution to the field. Or a few dozen Second Life clones. Personal life recorders. Omniscient debuggers. Web browsers. If I ever get involved in a startup, it had better not ever appear in a "Top 100" list of anything (unless it launched the bandwagon).
* Yes, I know the answer is that by and large VCs are sheep.
XML ... To quote Phil Wadler, "The problem XML solves is not very hard ... and XML doesn't solve it very well."
OK, so a simple generic extensible structured format is useful. Fortunately there's JSON.
Enterprise Software ... The "enterprise" breeds complex, bloated, and boring software. Hello DCE, CORBA, J2EE, WS-* and many more. It seems that if you create a niche for extremely expensive software that doesn't really work, someone will fill it.
(Interestingly, for a long time Microsoft was smart enough to stay out of these tar pits, but they've bought deeply into WS-*. Times change.)
IT ... Computing educators wonder why they have trouble attracting bright students to the field. Maybe it's because smart people aren't inspired by the software bureaucracy that is the domain of most corporate "IT departments". Every time I read about New Zealand's "IT industry" my stomach churns. We need to draw a clear line between IT and the cool stuff, and make sure that attention is focused on the cool side of the line.
Phew. That rant was building up for a while.