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authors O’Reilly, T.
year 1999
title Hardware, Software and Infoware
source Di Bona, C., Ockman, S. Stone, M.: Open Sources. Voices from the Open Source Revolution, First Edition, Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Publishers
summary I was talking with some friends recently, friends who don't own a computer. They were thinking of getting one so they could use Amazon.com to buy books and CDs. Not to use ``the Internet,'' not to use ``the Web,'' but to use Amazon.com. Now, that's the classic definition of a ``killer application'': one that makes someone go out and buy a computer. What's interesting is that the killer application is no longer a desktop productivity application or even a back-office enterprise software system, but an individual web site. And once you start thinking of web sites as applications, you soon come to realize that they represent an entirely new breed, something you might call an ``information application,'' or perhaps even ``infoware.'' Information applications are used to computerize tasks that just couldn't be handled in the old computing model. A few years ago, if you wanted to search a database of a million books, you talked to a librarian, who knew the arcane search syntax of the available computerized search tools and might be able to find what you wanted. If you wanted to buy a book, you went to a bookstore, and looked through its relatively small selection. Now, tens of thousands of people with no specialized training find and buy books online from that million-record database every day. The secret is that computers have come one step closer to the way that people communicate with each other. Web-based applications use plain English to build their interface -- words and pictures, not specialized little controls that acquire meaning only as you learn the software. Traditional software embeds small amounts of information in a lot of software; infoware embeds small amounts of software in a lot of information. The ``actions'' in an infoware product are generally fairly simple: make a choice, buy or sell, enter a small amount of data, and get back a customized result.
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