Le temps de l’utopie

Je n’ai pas encore regardé le film, mais je viens de terminer la lecture des Sentiers de l’Utopie, un livre-film d’Isabelle Fremeaux et John Jordan.

J’ai beaucoup aimé cette balade parmi quelques hauts lieux de l’Utopie en Europe et cette lecture renforce mon sentiment que pour surmonter la crise que nous vivons, les seules solutions réalistes sont celles qui sont qualifiées d’utopiques!

En 2008 déjà, en lisant les motions déposées pour le congrès de Reims du PS, j’avais été surpris de remarquer que la seule motion qui semblait prendre pleine conscience de l’ampleur de la crise et proposer des solutions proportionnées était la motion “F” du mouvement Utopia.

L’utopie a mauvaise presse : les utopies que l’on a voulu appliquer à grande échelle au vingtième siècle se sont toutes soldées de manière tragique.

Si aujourd’hui les utopies sont les seules à proposer des solutions réalistes, c’est que nous sommes à un moment charnière où pour sauver notre civilisation il nous faut modifier profondément nos habitudes pour instaurer plus d’équité ce qui est habituellement qualifié d’utopiste.

Les Sentiers de l’Utopie nous font découvrir des lieux qui expérimentent, chacun à sa manière, des modes d’interaction différents. Ce ne sont pas des dogmes à suivre aveuglément mais autant de laboratoires dont les découvertes seront précieuses pour trouver des solutions plus générales.

Pour terminer ce billet, deux images glanées hier soir dans un Paris où il allait geler opour la première fois de l’hiver alors que je me rendais à pieds à la conférence de Christian Vélot sur les plantes mutées à la mairie du deuxième arrondissement :

  • une terrasse ouverte et chauffée, où l’on chauffe l’extérieur pour que quelques consommateurs puissent déguster une bière à l’extérieur plutôt qu’à l’intérieur.
  • à quelques mètres, un sans abri se recroqueville, adossé à un sac à dos pour se préparer à passer la nuit qui sera glaciale.

Un gaspillage inutile de ressources non renouvelables dont les plus démunis sont totalement dépourvu, comment mieux illustrer la crise dans laquelle nous nous enfonçons?

 

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Les belles images

Certains pays sont mal partis : l’Afrique noire en particulier; la poussée démographique en Chine et dans toute l’Asie est inquiétante; cependant grâce aux protéines synthétiques, à la contraception, à l’automation, à l’énergie nucléaire, on peut considérer que vers 1990 sera instaurée la civilisation de l’abondance et des loisirs. La terre ne formera plus qu’un seul monde, parlant peut-être –grâce aux traducteurs automatiques– une langue universelle; les hommes mangeront à leur faim, ils ne consacreront au travail qu’un temps infime; ils ne connaitront plus la douleur ni la maladie.

Les belles images, Simone de Beauvoir, 1966

Ce petit roman que j’avais acheté chez un bouquiniste pendant mes années de taupe n’est, à juste titre, pas considéré comme une œuvre majeure de Simone de Beauvoir et je l’avais complètement oublié avant de la redécouvrir sur une étagère chez mes parents.

Les belles images qu’il décrit semblent aujourd’hui incroyablement naïves et utopiques : pensait-on réellement que les progrès technologiques allaient assurer le bonheur de l’humanité? Si j’essaye de me remettre dans l’ambiance de l’époque, il me semble que cette vision était en tout cas couramment affichée dans les médias et par nos dirigeants. Ce qui est également frappant est l’absence de toute considération environnementale dans cette vision.

Ce décalage est d’autant plus troublant qu’il est cantonné à ces déclarations et n’existe pas au plan des actes : on pourrait le transposer et le rendre très actuel en les remplaçant et en conservant la trame du roman et les actes de ses personnages qui n’ont pas pris une ride.

Les belles images ont décidément bien peu d’influence sur notre façon de vivre!

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Sun to buy the M from LAMP

Sun has announced their intention to buy MySQL, the number one database for web applications used both by Google et Amazon but also powering most of personal blogs.

Sun has considered that being the M from “LAMP” (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) would be a good way step to be the “.” in “.com” as they used to say in one of their taglines.

This announce has and will be commented at large… Personally, I do hope that this will speed up a better support of XML by MySQL.

I had the opportunity to have a look at XML support in MySQL 5.1 for the chapters about databases in the book “Beginning XML” that I have co-written with Joe Fawcett (he covered SQL Server and wrote two sections about eXist and MySQL). My conclusion is that these features are a good start but there is still a lot of work between they reach something that can match modern databases!

Knowing the long term commitment of Sun to XML, I do hope that this will boost the developments of new XML features.

While we’re speaking of modern databases, one of the leaders in term of XML support is Oracle.

And today is also the date they’ve chosen to announce that they’re buying BEA. what’s the link between these two announcements? It’s a factor 8.5! It will cost $b 8.5 to Oracle to buy BEA and only $b 1 to Sun to buy MySQL.

I don’t want to underestimate the BEA’s business value, but it looks to me that in term of overall visibility and contribution to the net economy, the factor should be the other way round!

That’s probably a good illustration that it remains more difficult to monetize open source than commercial developments.

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Sun se paye le M de LAMP

Sun vient d’annoncer son intention d’acheter MySQL, la base de données qui est devenue la principale base de données des applications Web et est utilisée notamment par Google et Amazon mais également par le plupart des blogs.

Sun aura sans doute considéré qu’être le M de « LAMP » (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) est sans doute un bon moyen d’être de « . » de « .com » pour reprendre une de leurs anciennes taglines!

Cette annonce sera sans doute amplement commentée. Pour ma part, j’espère que ce rachat signifiera un meilleur support de XML par MySQL.

J’ai eu l’occasion de me pencher sur le support de XML par MySQL 5.1 pour le chapitre consacré aux bases de données du livre « Beginning XML » que j’ai coécrit avec Joe Fawcett (je lui ai laissé le soin de présenter SQL Server et ai consacré deux sections à eXist et MySQL). Ma conclusion est que si ces fonctionnalités sont un bon début, il y a encore bien du chemin à faire pour que le support de XML par MySQL soit digne d’une base de donnés moderne.

Compte tenu de l’implication historique de Sun dans XML, j’espère que ce rachat va accélérer le mouvement.

Puisque nous parlons de base de données modernes, une des références en matière de support de XML est sans doute Oracle.

C’est également aujourd’hui que ce dernier annonce le rachat de BEA. Quel rapport y a t-il entre ces deux annonces? Le rapport est de 8,5! Il en coûtera 8,5 milliards de dollars à Oracle pour acquérir BEA alors que Sun ne déboursera qu’un petit milliard de dollars pour acheter MySQL.

Sans vouloir sous estimer la valeur de BEA, il me semble qu’en terme de visibilité et de contribution au Web et à la « nouvelle économie », le rapport devrait être dans l’autre sens!

C’est sans doute la preuve qu’il reste plus difficile de valoriser des développements de logiciels open source que des développements commerciaux.

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Our Web 2.0 book appears to be tough to classify

I have arrived in Boston yesterday evening to participate to the XML 2006 conference.

Today, I spent most of my time walking in the town and I couldn’t resist to enter in the first bookshop I found to check if they had our new Web 2.0 book.

This bookshop happened to be Borders, 10 School Street and it took me a while to find the book because it was neither with the other books about the Web nor with other suspects such as books about Ajax but together with my XML Schema book and HTML 4 for dummies (I haven’t understood why this other book was there either) between a bunch of books about XSLT.

Our book is probably difficult to classify because it covers a lot of subjects but, even though I have been involved in it, it is certainly not a book about XML and should rather be classified as a book about the Web!

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Professional Web 2.0 programming for real

I’have received my personal copies of our Web 2.0 book and they look really good.

I really like the kind foreword from Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr, especially when she says this book is very much about how, through technology, you can capture and delight your users. This should be the tagline of our book!

She goes on and adds: Web 2.0 is really a developer’s paradise! and that’s really what we’ve felt while we wrote the book.

I am also impressed by the ground we’ve covered while keeping the book relatively short. I wrote in the outline that I have sent to the publishers to sell my book idea that my goal wasn’t to write a Web 2.0 bible and I had set the prospective page count to 450. If you don’t take the index into account, we are very close to our target with our 492 pages.

The real challenge was to use this limited space to cover an incredibly large landscape: Web 2.0 is about using a dozen of different technologies together. Your reviews will tell but I think that we have been quite successful in selecting the most important things that you need to know to combine these technologies into successful Web 2.O applications.

I had the chance to give a talk about Web 2.0 at sparklingPoint yesterday evening and had a copy with me to circulate after my talk. The audience included several Web 2.0 developers and they spent more time that I had expected to glance through the book.

Their comments are positive and they appreciate in particular the fact that we have a full chapter about HTTP, a fundamental brick of the Web which is misunderstood by too many developers.

Now that the book is available, like Caterina Fake, I look forward to seeing the results the readers of this book will bring into being!

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XML Power, a book powered by the XML Guild

We’ve sent the final editions of our chapters of XML Power to our editor and the book should be available fairly soon. But, did we need yet another book on XML?

XML Power should be different…

XML Power is the first book written by the XML Guild.

We have thought we needed a common project to work together and learn to know each other better. We also wanted to create a set of common high quality materials that we could reuse. And of course we would like to increase our visibility.

Many of us have already written books and we rapidly came to the conclusion that we would write a collective book.

Why should it be different?

The primary motivation of this book is non commercial. We wrote it to share our enthusiasm for the technologies we use in our day to day work and to be a showcase of our activity. We have been lucky enough to find a publisher, Thomson, which have leaved us entirely free to determine the content of the book.

The book is not meant to be exhaustive. It’s not a new XML Bible and we don’t pretend that you will learn everything about XML. Instead it includes a series of points that each author has believed to be primordial in his or her domain.

You won’t be surprised to learn that I have written the chapter about XML schema languages. Instead of doing my usual introduction to each of the big three languages, I have decided to show what you can do when you reach a blocking point with W3C XML Schema.

The idea is that most users start by using W3C XML Schema and get rapidly blocked by a validation requirement that they can’t meet. This chapter is for them: it takes three examples increasingly difficult to solve to show a number of different solutions.

As I said, a purpose of this book is to produce reusable content and the contract that we have negotiated leaves us full rights over anything else than printed copies of the book in English. I have used this opportunity to derive a new tutorial from this chapter and will have the pleasure to deliver it at XML 2006 under the title XML schemas: breaking your chains.

The team involved in this book includes, by order of apparition in the book, Ken Holman, Evan Lenz, Zarella Rendon, Nikita Ogievetsky, Jeni Tennison, Benoît Marchal, Tony Coates, Michael Kay, Priscilla Walmsley, Ronald Bourret and Betty Harvey with the kind support of other guild members.

The book owes a lot to Zarella Rendon who has taken the burdens to act as a project manager and negotiate with publishers and it would probably have never been published nor even started without her contribution.

I probably don’t need to say that it has been fun to write: I have already said so of all my previous books (except XML Schema which has been a nightmare to write because the language is so horrible) and it probably just means that I enjoy writing books. Anyway; as you can imagine, working with such a dream team has been a nice experience.

I hope that this book will be as fun to read than it has been to write.

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Teaching Professional Web 2.0 Programming

I’ll have the pleasure to give a training based on chapter 1 of our book this coming Thursday (23/11/2006) from 2:00 to 5:00 pm (CET) for the ATHENS program.

Although this training is not publicly accessible but reserved to students who have registered through their University or Institution, it will be publicly broadcast and archived on the Internet.

The training will include a short introduction of Web 2.0 along the lines of my blog entry on the subject followed by the detailed presentation of a simple yet complete Web 2.0 mashup application.

This application is “BuzzWatch”, the same sample application that I have developed for chapter 1 our book “Professional Web 2.0 Programming“. Server side, BuzzWatch is written in PHP 5 and it takes advantage of easy XML, SQLite and Cache_Lite. Client side, it makes extensive use the Yahoo! User Interface (YUI) library.

This will be a tech heavy session which follows, like we do in the book, each action, tracing HTTP exchanges, scanning the web server log and digging into the JavaScript and PHP code to introduce the main technologies and issues you find while developing Web 2.0 applications.

BuzzWatch comes in four different versions:

  1. The first version exhibits the downsides of naive Web 2.0 applications: the pages have no URIs, the back button doesn’t work, …
  2. The second one fixes these issues at the price of code duplication between the client and the server
  3. The third version eliminates this code redundancy
  4. The fourth one makes BuzzWatch a good Web citizen with cool URIs

BuzzWatch can be downloaded and discussed on WROX site.

It’s been fun to develop and to write down first for the book and then for this training and I hope that it will be as fun to read and follow!

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A short URI on Amazon.com for our book

I am impressed! I wasn’t aware that such things did exist… Amazon.com has been kind enough to give us a short URI for our book Professional Web 2.0 Programming. This URI is http://www.amazon.com/web2-0thebook/.

This is a short and cool URI indeed and if, being a cool URI, it doesn’t change our book will always remain THE Web 2.0 book for Amazon.com!

However, as I pasted it my Web browser, I noticed that this short and cool URI was immediately replaced by http://www.amazon.com/Professional-Web-Programming-Eric-Vlist/dp/0470087889/.

Being suspicious, I tried:

vdv@grosbill:/tmp $ curl -D - -A  "Mozilla/4.0"  http://www.amazon.com/web2-0thebook/
HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2006 21:05:22 GMT
Server: Server
Set-Cookie: skin=; domain=.amazon.com; path=/; expires=Wed, 01-Aug-01 12:00:00 GMT
Location: http://www.amazon.com/Professional-Web-Programming-Eric-Vlist/dp/0470087889/
Vary: User-Agent
Content-Length: 0
Content-Type: text/plain
nnCoection: close

A 301 HTTP response code! This code is meant for obsolete resources:

10.3.2 301 Moved Permanently

The requested resource has been assigned a new permanent URI and any future references to this resource SHOULD use one of the returned URIs. Clients with link editing capabilities ought to automatically re-link references to the Request-URI to one or more of the new references returned by the server, where possible. This response is cacheable unless indicated otherwise. The new permanent URI SHOULD be given by the Location field in the response. Unless the request method was HEAD, the entity of the response SHOULD contain a short hypertext note with a hyperlink to the new URI(s).

Amazon.com have given us an obsolete URI! I would have much preferred a 302 (FOUND) which seems to be exactly our situation, a 303 (See Other) or even a 307 (Temporary Redirect) since none of these codes carries this meaning of a URI that should no longer be used.

I was also wondering if this URI can be used with Amazon partners tags and I tried:

vdv@grosbill:/tmp $ curl -D - -A  "Mozilla/4.0" http://www.amazon.com/web2-0thebook/?tag=<mytag>
HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2006 21:07:28 GMT
Server: Server
Set-Cookie: skin=; domain=.amazon.com; path=/; expires=Wed, 01-Aug-01 12:00:00 GMT
Location: http://www.amazon.com/Professional-Web-Programming-Eric-Vlist/dp/0470087889/
Vary: User-Agent
Content-Length: 0
Content-Type: text/plain
nnCoection: close

There might other solutions, but the answer seems to be “no”: the query string is stripped during the redirect and the cookie which is set doesn’t carry this information either. This means that when we use this short URI, we are not treated as Amazon.com affiliated sites.

Anyway, I shouldn’t be that picky! Thanks Amazon.com, this is a short and cool URI even if its implementation could be improved :) …

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