liveTopics Google Jazz

One of the things I really enjoy is learning completely new technology by just trying to make it work. (This is what Dave calls “bootstrapping”.) I’m not a programmer, but I can meddle just enough to learn as I go.

I have a feeling I’ll be doing a lot of exploring with liveTopics. After seeing an explanation of how Marc Barrot added a new macro to his weblog, I added the same template – the result being that you can now see “related” reading for each post I make to this site. (Note: after seeing the initial results, I’m a little disappointed in Google’s ability to relate items in its collection to these posts. But that’s Google’s issue.) This is a great example of how complementary technologies (Radio, activeRenderer, liveTopics) can combine to present a powerful knowledge sharing and distribution platform.

Ask yourself this: two years ago, would you have thought it even remotely possible that a desktop application could automatically publish and archive web content, seemlessly integrate API-level calls to the world’s most popular search engine, separate presentation from content – all for $40? Radio has some rough edges, but to see this kind of stuff in action is exciting.

As I write this, I’m in the midst of a conference where vendors are selling comparable systems for much more money. What separates them from Radio at this point more than anything else is domain expertise. The vendors here know their market (and their users) far better than Userland does. As a result, things that are important in the legal market – security models ( including ethical wall security), document profiling, document management, meta data, Outlook integration, etc. – get the most attention. But the difference between Radio as a content management platform and many of the high-end portal platform players is one of degree, not magnitude.

Question: is there an opportunity for someone to take Radio as a development platform and build new applications? I’m completely ignorant of Frontier and Manila, but I think that’s what they are. I’ll have to learn more about them.

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