The return of push (sort of)
Posted by unbrand on 4 May 2004 | 0 Comments
Wired Magazine has an article in their most recent issue about the return of push. This was a web content distribution technology that was big in the mid-late 90’s and Wired happened to hype the hell out of it. There are a couple of points about this.
1. Most of what was considered push was actually “smart pull.” Push isn’t a product or even a technology. It is a perceived methodology. Back in the day, I created a plugin to BackWeb, a competitor to PointCast. I remember being struck by how the industry considered this dissemination-of-information-thing to be “push.” Hey, it was 1996, the beginning of the REALLY BIG HYPE.
2. When a technology does not take the world by storm and give a 20x return to the Venture Capitalists, it’s considered a failure. This is a real problem in technology. Many great products need time to gestate. Back in the 1980’s there was a much-hyped technology that had the acronym of CASE for Computer Aided Software Engineering. I worked at 2 different companies, developing CASE products. As the vendors merged, the term CASE disappeared. Then came “client-server development tools.” Then it was “rapid prototyping.” Now it’s all about refactoring. Hmmm. Refactoring to me sounds like “doing my job,” but that’s another point. What I’m getting at is that these products/tools evolve. Sure, nobody got rich off CASE. So what? I think CASE did a lot for the evolution of software development, and we are seeing development now splinter and branch off into many different directions, and it’s all good. Good because we can all pick and choose what works best for a given project, constraints, etc.
3. Yet again, Wired magazine is prescient, and they have the arrows in their backs from having the guts to make bold predictions. They proclaimed loudly that push would be king, back in 1997, leading to the destruction of the browser. That didn’t happen, directly, but look at RSS. How many more tweaks will the Atom folks come up with before this starts looking like push again?
I remember the derision some people directed my way when I would tell them that I had created a small piece of push technology. The thing was, I knew it wasn’t push, but that was the term people had become familiar with. When the push bubble popped, all of a sudden there was a disdain for anyone or anything associated with it. The industry and the pundits and the cooler-than-thou had moved on to bigger and better things. Indeed.