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JavaOne - X - You Had Me At Hello

Posted by dmax69 on June 29, 2005 at 6:33 AM PDT

I admit it: I really like Jini.

I have had a strong Jini bias since first learning about it, which was, to my reckoning, right before it was officially released in 1999. The first record I have that mentions Jini is dated mid-January of that year – a few weeks before the actual release of the first official download of the Jini protocols. I remember, when I first understood what it was about and what it meant, how excited I got. It was like discovering something really cool and important, and all I wanted to do was share that discovery with engineers all around the world, thinking that they too would share the vision. How could anyone not get how important and wonderful Jini was? Self-healing networks ... automatic configuration ... emergent organization ... the possibilities were enormous. Between Jini and JavaSpaces, there was nothing that couldn't be done in the realm of distributed computing.

I remembered those salad days when I attended a wonderful BOF Monday night, given by a terribly funny Jens Kleemann of Dusseldorf, Germany, who had consulted on an implementation of a clustered (almost GRID) system (250+ COTS nodes) using Jini. And again on Tuesday night at the combined Communities celebration (Jini, JXTA and java.net). While Jini may still be the Java red-headed step child, it seems to me that some of the best and the brightest are still attracted to this “Cool Stuff” Track technology.

So what happened to Jini? Why no chasm crossing attempt for such a compelling system? Alas, because when it comes to market chasms and disruptive technologies, there is really only one discipline in the firm that is responsible for their ultimate success or failure. It's the very same folks that brought you JavaOne in the first place, the same people that blesses ill-considered slogans on dancing coffee cups, and yes, Java logo condoms ... it's the marketing function.

As great as Sun is at engineering and technology, that's how bad they are at marketing.

Condoms. I was stunned. Condoms, with a Java logo ... given away like candy in a bowel. Right there on the give-away table at the joint community celebration, with Duke in tow and a birthday cake. Condoms. What were they thinking? Are the condoms.JPG
marketing powers at Sun truthfully that obtuse? My goodness, I hope no one I know is responsible for the stunning array of marketing failures I have witnessed during these past few days. I mean, I always knew Sun wasn't the greatest marketeer on the planet. But now it seems like they are going out of their way to alienate many who really care.

Okay, so maybe I'm a bit of a prude. But hey, where's the political correctness when it comes to crap like that? Here's what I don't get: how can the politically correct, everbody matters, everybody has value crowd condone the imposition of their own values on everyone else, regardless of the consequences? If everyone matters, then do not the traditional values matter? The hypocricy, it seems to me, is that everyone matters as long as they happen to agree that everyone matters – and those of us who happen to subscribe to more of a traditional American value system in which some degree of discretion is allowed when it comes to assessing the value of individual contribution no longer matter. It's the "get over it, they are only condoms" attitude that gets me ... as if that was assumed to be the zeitgeist at large.

For a global firm like Sun, which seems to go out of its way to be socially aware and not offend anyone, they sure seem to be missing the point. Unless, of course, this is Graham Hamilton's ploy to make certain Jini doesn't ever succeed, by discouraging Jini engineers from biological reproduction altogether ...

I have long been enamored with Sun's technologies and the engineers that create and represent them. Well before joining Sun, I was a fan of Bill Joy and his work, and Gosling and his pre-Java work – what self-respecting geek doesn't at least appreciate emacs?

After leaving Sun, I have remained an enthusiastic champion of the technologies, especially innovations like Jini. But when it comes to marketing ... there are no words to express the stunning lack of acumen.

I'm beginning to think Sun would be better off with literally no promotion at all. Let the engineers speak. If you are a marketeer at Sun, just shut up. You had me at hello.

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