MIX Hangover and the Beauty of Choice

MIX Hangover...

Wow.  By show of hands, who was at MIX?  Virtually or physically it doesn't matter.  Regardless, I am sure most of you (who haven't been in a cave) were there vicariously as the buzz around Silverlight has beckoned your interest.  The announcement about .NET integration in Silverlight (v1.1) was surprising...  I knew it was inevitable but I was surprised to hear about it so soon. 

The name of the conference (MIX) couldn't be better because looking at the audience there it was apparent that there was a literal mix of diverse roles and persuasions.  Of course there were developers with their usual hoo-rah and 'developers, developers, developers' enthusiasm.  Designers with their black and grey attire (turtlenecks anyone?) sporting their Mac Book Pros.  The so-called 'Business Decision Maker' audience which was pretty much everyone else, and they... well, were the normal ones.  Despite the diversity of opinion, background, and interest everyone was more-or-less in accord with the significance of Microsoft's strategy into the next generation of computing.  Competition is good for everyone and a competition it will be in this brave new world of services, mashups, experiences, yada, yada.

...and the Beauty of Choice

For me, the announcements around Common Language Runtime integration into Silverlight and the Dynamic Language Runtime opens up a whole new world of delivering richness that is in line with the overall economic shift we have been seeing in these last 3-5 years.  This economic shift is spoken to in Chris Anderson's excellent book The Long Tail.  In terms of delivering Rich Internet Applictions (RIAs), economics of scarcity governed in Adobe Flash's favor; to develop RIAs your choice was limited to Flash and its scripting engine in ActionScript.  Now many will argue saying AJAX is another technology to create RIAs; I wouldn't agree nor disagree as I am not trying to compare the type of RIAs that Flash delivers from those made with AJAX.  Essentially, the RIA game is open and developers instantly have much more choice when it comes to deliver RIAs.  At MIX there were demos that showed Ruby, Python, JavaScript, C#, and VB.NET being used to script Silverlight and even doing cross-plaform debugging (yes, on a Mac in Safari).  Live performance comparisons were given as well that were staggering in favor of a managed code environment delivering RIA capabilities. 

Choice ushers in an economy of abundance in which limitations and scarcity (in terms of technology choice, human capital/skill, etc.) are no longer as relevant.  In my opinion, choice is at the center of this so-called Web 2.0 and Software-as-a-Service revolution.  We hear terms such as 'consumerization', 'pro-am (professional-amateur)', 'mass-customization', and others interrupting our status quo as architects as we consider technology strategies aligning to business value.  It's no coincidence why TIME magazine's person of the year is YOU because choice is fundamental to any democratic revolution (and no, in this I am not talking about the political party).  Successful practitioners of business, architecture, high technology, et cetera will find creative and value-added ways of incorporating choice into their products and services.  The challenge for architects, nonetheless, stays the same: how to create an architecture to support choice in all of its variety and allow for deep and fundamental changes in the ever shifting tide of tastes, styles, and strategy... all while maintaining high levels of reliability, predictability, performance, et cetera.

Ironic that a guy from Microsoft is talking about choice?  If things keep going the way I suspect, Microsoft will have a lot more to say about choice in the not-too-distant future.  Time will tell.

 Please do attend MIX virtually and let me know what you think...