Sunday, April 06, 2008

Where Are the Webmusicing Servers?

At the turn of the Century visionaries began to speculate on the power of distributed computing and the location of software applications residing on servers rather than on one's personal computer. Google, Apple and Microsoft led the way along with a number of other gurus and geniuses. Soon we began to see the extension of podcasting with YouTube and Google, and Social Networking interfaces that represented an accumulation of applications to work seamless (more or less) in the context of an Internet web interface such as MySpace and later FaceBook. The emphasis moved away from the programs and applications on your personal computer, to software residing on a server that is just as effective as your personal copy.

Why are app servers so important? The answer is simple: They represent the next great paradigm for building enterprise applications. The first phase, dominant from the 1960s until the mid-1980s, was mainframe-based applications, accessed via dumb terminals and built on top of supporting services, such as CICS. Phase two, dominant from the 1980s until quite recently, was client/server applications. David Chappell, 1999.
Now we can crop and edit images on the Internet with about as much detail as Photoshop, and we can process text with software on the Web that is about as powerful as Microsoft's Word. We can upload a document and make it into a PDF file. And in this time of tax deadlines, we can do our taxes directly on-line without any such application on our computers.

Music lags far behind, perhaps because the companies producing music software have been the most conservative and least imaginative. I am still campaigning for an arts collaborative interface where musicians and artists create original works together on an interactive platform of creative software. We do this collaboration using Internet2. Now we need a platform with applications. Companies such as Finale and Sibelius had best look to this brave new future by creating their own interactive servers. "Oh, the world, it is a-changing..."


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