There's an interesting discussion going on over at the Service-Orientated Architecture Yahoo Group. Below is an excerpt of one of my contributions to give you a flavor of the debate. Please join in (preferably on my side <grin>)!
I'm calling [Bull****] on Business-SOA, which I interpret as business-only SOA, ie believing that technology is basically irrelevant to the success of SOA because "good" business-only SOA can work with ANY technology, including smoke signals. That's pure fantasy concocted on PPT slides. Hence B-SOA (business-only SOA) is BS-SOA [bull**** SOA].
T-SOA (Technology-SOA) is just as bad. It believes that business-issues don't matter because SOA technology is so powerful and wonderful and magical that the mere purchase, deployment, and technical training in WS-*, ESBs, Registry/Repositories will improve the business automagically. T-SOA (technology-only SOA) is also BS-SOA [bull**** SOA].
As usual, Nick Carr loves the "poke in the eye" headline ("IT Doesn't Matter Anymore", "The Big Switch") paired with rather prosaic analysis. He's at it again with Who Killed the Blogosphere. His catalyst is the recent article in the Economist on the mainstreaming of the blogosphere, Oh Grow Up. (See how Nick takes a reasonable article about the evolution of the blogosphere and turns the volume to 11 - where distortion overtakes the music- by claiming the "blogosphere is dead".)
Well, here’s an interesting response: Blogging's not dead, it's becoming like air. I like point made in the post that people don’t lose interest and just go into listen mode. Instead, they STILL participate in the web, but in myriad different ways – especially twitter, FB, and MySpace.
BTW, That’s why we called our effort “Gartner Web Participation”. It’s about participating in the Web, not just reading or writing blogs. For example, I participate actively in both the REST-discuss and SOA Yahoo Groups. I also twitter, and I even find time to add my very small part to Wikipedia.
I think it’s a real stretch (but one that Nick Carr is good at) to characterize the Blogosphere annual report as the “death of blogging”. I urge everyone to read all 5 of the reports that make up the annual report. It paints a very different picture from the one Carr draws. Here’s an interesting chart from day 2:
Most Professional and Corporate Bloggers have benefited professionally The majority of corporate and professional bloggers have seen a positive impact as a result of their blog. Half are better known in their industry, and one in four have used their blog as a resume enhancement. Fewer than one in ten have seen a negative impact from blogging and one in three have yet to see an impact.
BTW, In a comment to his post Carr “clarifies” his position to say that:
“There are blogs, Tim [Bray], and long may they live (yours very much included); it's the idea of the blogosphere that's pushing up the daisies. If you come up with a new word for what remains, do let us know. Blogipelago, perhaps?”
So to use Carr’s deeply flawed analogy, he’s claiming that we’ll all be listening to only the top 100 blogs in a couple years, because only the HAM fringe will be listening to themselves. So to back this up Carr should show some stats regarding the average web user’s viewing habits. How often are they reading top 100 blogs vs. reading hoi polloi blogs?
The best analogy is the Web itself. The Web hasn’t “died” just because some Web sites are mainstream. The Web and the Blogosphere are still media in which an individual with little investment and no license can attain a global voice overnight – if there stuff is interesting enough.
In an election season of unlikely outcomes, Mr. Silver, 30, is perhaps the most unlikely media star to emerge. A baseball statistician who began analyzing political polls only last year, he introduced his site, FiveThirtyEight.com, in March, where he used his own formula to predict federal and state results and run Election Day possibilities based on a host of factors.
Other sites combine polls, notably RealClearPolitics and Pollster, but FiveThirtyEight, which drew almost five million page views on Election Day, has become one of the breakout online stars of the year. Mr. Silver recognized that people wanted to play politics like they played fantasy baseball, and pick apart poll numbers for themselves instead of waiting for an evening news anchor to interpret polls for them.
My friend and fellow NYU Law alumnus Keith Takeda emailed me yesterday with news of In re Bilski. Given I was flying home from Microsoft PDC, I didn't see it until today.
As soon as I saw it though, I alerted my Gartner colleagues that a major shift in patent law had just taken place. Now that I've had more time to read the decision closely, I'm even more convinced of it.
[Of course, now that I am no longer a bar-certified IP litigator these opinions are only the opinions of a lay person. For a legal opinion, speak with your attorney. Now with that legal boilerplate out of the way, on to the discussion.]
In its densely reasoned opinion, the CAFC did one thing quite clearly. It (re)established a single test of patentability to apply to applications for software or business method patents -- the so-called machine-or-transformation test:
A claimed process is surely patent-eligible ... if: (1) it is tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or (2) it transforms a particular article into a different state or thing.
In doing so the court invalidated several other tests, especially the test used in the (in)famous State Street decision: a "useful, concrete, and tangible result".
Many commentators have already opined that Bilski did not significantly impact software patents because the court explicitly chose not to address the machine aspect of the machine-or-transformation test:
As a result, issues specific to the machine implementation part of the test are not before us today. We leave to future cases the elaboration of the precise contours of machine implementation, as well as the answers to particular questions, such as whether or when recitation of a computer suffices to tie a process claim to a particular machine. [emphasis added]
Accordingly, such commentators appear to reason that so long as a patent application ties the software to a computer, it may pass the test. This would leave most software patents intact.
I find this reasoning completely unpersuasive in the face of the ample dicta the court provided to signal its likely approach to the machine test. The requirement that software be "tied to a particular machine or apparatus" is not satisfied by merely reciting that the software is tied to a "general-purpose digital computer". Here is just one example: "However, in Benson, the limitations tying the process to a computer were not actually limiting because the fundamental principle at issue, a particular algorithm, had no utility other than operating on a digital computer." [emphasis added]
Clearly the CAFC will require that the machine being tied to is either some type of special-purpose computer, or a general-purpose computer embedded in some type of special-purpose device. So unless the transformation test (which we turn to next) leaves a loophole, the particular machine test will greatly restrict the scope of software patents.
My reading of the court's discussion of the transformation test convinces me that it offers no loophole either. While the court does not go so far as to require that the article being transformed be a physical object, it does require that the article being transformed be at least a representation of a physical object: "Purported transformations or manipulations simply of public or private legal obligations or relationships, business risks, or other such abstractions cannot meet the test because they are not physical objects or substances, and they are not representative of physical objects or substances." [emphasis added]
So some software and business method patents survive, but only a select few. Restating the machine-or-transformation test with the restrictions impose in Bilski will make this clear:
A claimed process is surely patent-eligible ... if: (1) it is tied to a special-purpose computer, or a general-purpose computer embedded in a special purpose device, or (2) it transforms a physical object or substance, or a representation of such, into a different state or thing.
IMLayO, this new test will invalidate thousands of patents. A list of some potentially invalidated patents has been produced by Gene Quinn: Say Goodby to These Patents. Let the litigation begin!