Tom Standage's history of telegraphy, The Victorian Internet, draws striking parallels between that era's communication revolution and our modern one. A 19th-century citizen transported to today would be amazed by air travel, Standage suggests, but not by the Internet. Been there, done that.
Here's one popular definition of insanity: "Do the same thing, expecting a different result." Now consider the following partial list of proposed standards for Web services: WS-Addressing, WS-AtomicTransaction, WS-Attachments, WS-Context, WS-Coordination, WS-Eventing, WS-Federation, WS-Reliability, WS-ReliableMessaging, WS-Routing, WS-SecureConversation, WS-Security, WS-SecurityPolicy, WS-Transaction, and WS-Trust.
I've always blended the geeky, command-line-driven Unix style with the mom-friendly point-and-click Windows approach. To borrow a Microsoft Corp. slogan, the two approaches are "better together." Each has strengths that complement weaknesses in the other. However, we've yet to achieve real synergy.
The other day I had to send somebody a trio of multimegabyte TIFF files. She asked me to e-mail them. Instead, I figured I'd make things easier for her by uploading the files to my FTP site and e-mailing her the URLs. Bad idea. She tried to open the files in her browser but, being a Windows browser, it wouldn't recognize them.
Simple text messages live at the core of every successful Internet application. XML seeks to grow the expressive power of these texts while preserving their accessibility. Java, although born to the Internet, has been oddly slow to embrace these paradigms.