From infinite extensibility to infinite interoperability

Jeff Whatcott, Acquia's VP of marketing, wrote an interesting blog post about the term content management system, Microsoft SharePoint 2007, and Drupal's opportunity to be the poster child for the social software market space.

The funny thing is that I replied to Jeff's post back in 2006. In 2006, I agreed with Jeff — and I still agree with Jeff today — that (i) the term 'content management system' under sells what Drupal is capable of, (ii) that content management systems are consolidating to community and collaboration platforms, and (iii) that SharePoint is mind-boggling in more than one way.

From a content management system's point of view, we can summarize the current state of affairs as:

Web 1.0 = content management
Web 2.0 = Web 1.0 + user management + infinite extensibility

Jeff said it best when he wrote: the genius of what the [Drupal] community has done is to reduce all of the aspects of social software to their core DNA: content nodes and membership, and then build a platform that could be infinitely extended to allow the assembly of almost any styles of online social interaction.

But while Jeff rightfully sees a business opportunity for the Drupal community in the social publishing market, I tend to worry more about the fact that Drupal's key differentiator (i.e. bundling a wide variety of functionality into a single platform) becomes a commodity.

I want the Drupal community to stay ahead of the competition. I want to start implementing today what proprietary CMS vendors will implement in 2013. From a content management system's point of view, I believe, that means (and I really hate to use the term 'Web 3.0'):

Web 3.0 = Web 2.0 + infinite interoperability

which roughly translates to:

Web 3.0 = Web 2.0 + data portability + web service APIs

While the short-term business opportunity might be to go after the social publishing market, I strongly believe that the long-term business opportunity lies in the infinite interoperability and that spans well beyond the social software market.

Thanks to Open Source software and companies like Google, the cost of building Web 2.0 applications will approach zero. Contrary to what one might think, this actually creates a lot of business opportunities. Opportunities that are best monetized through web services. But for that to happen, ubiquitous and seamless interoperability is key.