Thursday, October 20, 2011

Do It Yourself (DIY) vs Do It For Me (DFM)

Two unrelated events over the past few weeks highlighted for me an acceleration of change in the application and infrastructure ecosystems. Until I 'upgraded' to iOS5 on the iphone, and Apple killed the independent Siri application, I had been running Siri on my 4. Its feature set (along with Dragon Go!) is billed as a voice assistant, really a software layer that sits across a myriad of databases and retrieves the data it thinks you are looking for. Rather than opening a specific application and conduct a search, the application interprets and parses verbal instructions, searches various databases and returns an answer it thinks solves the question at hand. The application essentially provides a service for me (DFM) which replaces manual searching (DIY). 


A multitude of examples abound for DFM services which range from Box.net (storage/back-up), Google or Yahoo News (algorithmic filtering), to Amazon's suggested items to buy. Many are assuming the role of gatekeeper or curator for the personalized serving of information or commerce options. 


I was exposed to another example of DYM in the techie world while attending PuppetCon with Cloudsmith's management. Firms such as Puppet Labs are shielding administrators from layers of complexity via their automated IT management solutions, which enables IT professionals to manage dynamic cloud infrastructures. Companies, such as Twitter and Match.com, could not provide the massive global solutions they offer without folk like Puppet. Creative programmers and business folk are leveraging the latest infrastructure advances to mask complexity, enhance access, and increase utility. A killer combination.


Each time we get an advance in processing, bandwidth, storage or displays, programmers busily optimize/advance their programs by packing in more and different utility for users. It's one reason why older devices seem to degrade over time; the upgraded applications are no longer designed for their device and, the last generation(s) are ill equipped to keep up. 


Here's a video of Eli Pariser describing the potential downsides to enhanced filtering. It's really informative:














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