Top 25 Technology Drivers
| Kim Cameron, sociology and computer science instructor, must have been a hit on campus. Some even think his wry, disheveled manner would fly on the comedy circuit. But the really interesting thing about Cameron's often-humorous monologues is that they all come around to a vision--one for which Cameron has become one of the chief proponents.
As co-founder in 1988 of tiny, Toronto-based Zoomit Corp., Cameron is responsible for metadirectory technology, code-named Mississippi, that may prove to be the next step in organizing the Inter net. Several analysts and an emerging field of competitors freely admit that Zoomit commands the technology lead in metadirectories, though WorldTalk has more market presence. IBM and Novell are also expected to enter the metadirectory competition with products within the next 16 months.
|So, what is a metadirectory? It's software that goes beyond directory synchronization to enable a single view and administration of multiple directories--so that changes can be made from the top down, the bottom up and peer-to-peer. While metadirectory software will initially have its greatest appeal to those who administer multiple directories--
particularly in the more traditional e-mail sector, Cameron's vision for it is much more expansive.
"We have to completely change the way we look at a directory," he says. Although directories are the domain of administrators today, he sees that responsibility shifting to end users in the future. In fact, he believes the metadirectory will prove to be the grid on which the Internet will be organized. How will that scale? In a distributed manner, of course. Cameron's product, which went into beta-testing this summer, lets users go beyond sharing address-type information to include files and other information. That directory--including abstracts that describe files--can be kept on a server and shared across an intranet or the Internet. Search-engine providers already are contemplating how they can use these metadirectories to access static databases that lie beyond their search capabilities today. Cameron also believes that Internet service providers will come to rely on metadirectories for their customers. Of course, security standardization remains a key hurdle for widespread deployment of metad irectories across the Internet.
Cameron says he believes, however, that cyberspace will be settled by the world in the same way the old West was colonized. He sees products like his own creating real estate for everyone, even the desktop user. "I can visit your home and you can visit mine, instead of sending e-mail, which reminds me of being in prison," he says. Although the population will be sparse, people will concentrate on the weirdos, as they do today, he says, but as it becomes massively populated those problems will go away. Fences will be built and sheriffs will arise as they become necessary.
Contribution Last 12 Months: Developed metadirectory, beta began in mid-July
Top 25 Technology Drivers
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>Updated August 26, 1996