The Beauty of Unlimited
When asked to contemplate the limits of the universe vs. those of human stupidity, Einstein expressed doubts only about the limits of the former. Jokes aside, the concept of a limitless universe is finding realization in the concept of a limitless Cloud, which is changing our world quickly.
I work these days mainly at “connecting” applications, as our Silicon Connector product is fast becoming our main business. Our work is limited, so far, to making two applications talk to each other, but increasingly these two applications are by no means isolated, they are nodes in a wider and deeper context. We feel firsthand the expansion of connectivity.
In software, the paradigm of isolated applications was originally the norm, and while applications might interface across a network, connectivity did not go far. Even with the advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web, at the time when peer-to-peer models became feasible, it took time for servers to talk to each other, let alone client-server “peer” hybrids. Generally, although the newfound connectivity had huge potential, it was first interpreted in relation to the communication metaphor people knew. I am old enough to remember when televisions had less than 10 channels and the communication was profoundly one-way. Sure enough, the early web was implemented (contrary to how Berners-Lee had envisioned it) along the lines of a “broadcast” paradigm, with thin (“stupid”?) clients largely on the receiving end of information. As Douglas Adams has pointed out, all new technology is first interpreted in terms of previous technology.
“First we thought the PC was a calculator. Then we found out how to turn numbers into letters with ASCII — and we thought it was a typewriter. Then we discovered graphics, and we thought it was a television. With the World Wide Web, we’ve realized it’s a brochure.”
― Douglas Adams
It has taken nearly 30 years to attain the “two-way” form of connectivity envisioned by Berners-Lee, in terms of advances in paradigm, as well as the supporting technology and standards, and overall distribution to humanity. The Internet now facilitates forms of connectivity beyond even the dreams of the past.
In some ways “limitless” is already a reality, and certainly will be in the near future. Given the growth rate of the Internet, we’re rapidly reaching the point where it will expand forever, much like the universe itself, the edges receding from our view in a way strangely reminiscent of the “terra incognita” penned along the fringes of medieval maps.
How much Internet can there be? And within the ever-expanding Cloud of billions of interconnected devices that comprise it, will there ever be “Internet enough”? Probably not. Probably never will be. (We’ll certainly run out of ability to manage all that data long before we run out of storage space.)
Which leads to Silicon Connector, one of the more prominent splashes along the wave-front of new technologies interconnecting the vast resources that are crucial to our everyday lives. Lives of play and work which themselves are becoming increasingly digitally interwoven.
My previous blog posts touched upon the obvious: Silicon Connector connects. Specifically, it connects Adobe products, such as InDesign, to the immense repositories of images, text and other assets residing in today’s DAMs, edifices spanning the digital landscape like the aqueducts of Rome or the terraces of Machu Picchu.
Today’s Cloud-based world is more vast and full of possibilities than that of the ancients, whose ideas were drawn on vellum with ink. DAMs are the treasure-troves of knowledge speckling today’s digital world of virtually limitless horizons. And inter-connecting them is increasingly making all the difference.
The tip of the digital iceberg
Silicon Connector bridges the gap to 14 DAMs. Each is different, yet each crucial in unique ways to user communities numbering in the millions. Yet these are only the first wave, the outliers of what will become a crowded cityscape of interwoven ecosystems of digital goods and services. Each DAM organizes valued resources for business use, as well as those becoming crucial in public and private life.
Silicon Connector can’t bridge all of the gaps. It was never intended to. What began as a solution to a specific and limited problem of bridging InDesign to a single DAM has now blossomed into a broader methodology of addressing the challenges of connectivity across all leading DAMs, serving users of an expanding range of Adobe products. For InDesign users today, Connector offers a comprehensive solution for working collaboratively and securely with many leading DAMs. For those using Photoshop and Illustrator, Connector’s plug-in technology unlocks the door to DAM accessibility now, and promises much more in the future.
What Connector can and does do, brilliantly, is to open the door wide to digital connectivity, to every DAM that is here, and every DAM that is coming. Silicon Connector’s fundamentally open approach to bridging the gap between the Adobe desktop and the Cloud ensures that no matter how much it grows, and how it evolves, those who use Adobe Desktop technologies with Adobe and other Cloud technologies will never be out of touch with their assets, their customers, or their future. But what interests me is how this will extend. Will we ever connect Photoshop to your refrigerator? Will our product get Zapier-like, focused more on connectivity than a particular domain?
Since our “Connector” product came out, the inquiries have become a series of revelations. When demonstrating a given flavor of Connector to prospects, and explaining that we connect Adobe InDesign to Adobe Experience Manager (or whichever DAM they’re interested in), it’s astounding how often those same prospects dwell far more on the general concept of a “Connector” itself, rather than focusing on the solution I had just demonstrated.
“You know, there’s another place your Connector may help us. Can you get data out of our PIM and onto our web site?” Really it’s a wonderful pun. We have yet to take anyone up on their overloading of our “Connector” name, but I am sure we will. The product does not say “Adobe InDesign Connector” on the label, so they leap to the conclusion that it can and will eventually connect all sorts of unexpected things.
I doubt we’ll start with connecting cars to home security systems, but I have learned not to rule anything out.
A very natural way we might go initially (and the request comes in every day) would be to release a multi-DAM Connector. It would not be hard to use Creative Cloud apps as a central command center to orchestrate multiple DAMs, but we haven’t yet found DAM vendors particularly interested in enabling their customers to better utilize their DAM in a greater community of multiple DAMs.
DAM vendors are typically insecure that the connectivity will enable migration the wrong direction. Like twitter, they are scared of their own APIs.
I suspect such fears are ill-founded and at some point the more enlightened DAMs will open themselves up with great reward. Until then we’ll explore the more politically acceptable multi-app connections; nobody seems to mind a database in the mix, for example. Our enlightened partner Workfront works hard to glue things together, although they face the problem of what to do given the immature state of the industry; like us, they can only connect software that is ripe for connection.
Extensibility and ease of interface, (in other words, having APIs), is fast becoming a critical factor in growing adoption with nearly every form of software. Some have suggested that businesses themselves should be measured by their APIs. I believe this is an unstoppable force and humanity will benefit in the long run.
If this earth is not destroyed by some man-made calamity, we have great things to look forward to. The very connectivity that is now “out of control” — and which combines with AI to give Elon Musk sleepless nights — may be the critical element in saving this planet.