As Phil Windley mentioned the other day, I’ll be speaking at the Kynetx Impact conference, April 27-28 in Salt Lake City. Last year I interviewed Phil about what Kynetx does. It’s hard to boil it down to an elevator pitch without examples, so here’s one that came up today: Scott Hanselman’s Put Missing Kids on your 404 Page application.
Inspired by a PHP solution to the problem, Scott set out to replicate it for ASP.NET.
But then I realized that a server-side solution wasn’t really necessary.
Could I do it all on the client side? This way anyone could add this feature to their site, regardless of their server-side choice.
One next step, as Scott points out, is to add geolocation so the list of kids you see will be more relevant to you. But there are lots of ways to contextualize that list based on aspects of your identity. And this is what Kynetx applications do: Contextualize your experience of the web based on aspects of your identity.
My own interest in this idea dates back to the LibraryLookup project, which was an early demonstration of the power of client-driven contextualization. It evolved from a bookmarklet to a browser plug-in, but then stalled there for lack of a ubiquitous client-side technology.
Now there is: jQuery. What Scott’s example shows, as do all Kynetx applications, is that we’re ready to make clients more equal partners in the dance of the web. Among other things, this possibility raises horny issues about the control of content — issues that I explored in a 2005 screencast.
But there’s also a deep connection between Phil’s work and the ongoing saga of digital identity. Phil wrote a book on that subject, and has been a key organizer of the Internet Identity Workshop. When he started Kynetx he wasn’t really thinking about a tie-in to Information Cards and the identity metasystem. But the connection emerged organically.
In a Kynetx-enhanced version of the Missing Kids 404 Page application, your browser would present selected aspects of your identity to the services that provide the data, and a Kynetx application would personalize that data in ways meaningful to you.
The Internet began as a network of peers. That arrangement didn’t last long, and there have been several efforts to restore the original symmetry. In the early 2000s, during Napster’s heyday, there was a flurry of interest in peer-to-peer architectures. Thanks to today’s more capable and more standardized browsers, we’re seeing a new wave of interest. I’m looking foward to hanging out at the Kynetx conference and meeting folks who are riding that wave.