The Open Stack or Mere Plumbing?

So what exactly are we all building here?

OpenID?

OpenID plus OAuth plus Yadis/XRD(S) plus Portable Contacts plus OpenSocial plus activity streams? That’s a handful, so some have been calling it the “Open Stack“. Is that what we are building?

But what about RSS (and syndication in general), iCal feeds, widgets, mash-ups and so forth? They go beyond the “Open Stack” but clearly relate somehow.

Today’s insight: they are all internet plumbing and that’s why they all don’t matter in the end.

plumbing

None of them matters to the end user, just like nobody cares about the plumbing for a faucet vs. one for a sink. Except for the plumbers, of course, who cannot understand why the world doesn’t passionately want the latest and coolest pipe fitting underneath their sink.

Ever been at the receiving end of a pitch by a plumbing supply salesman? Being plumbing supply salesmen is exactly what we are doing when we are out there pitching all these acronyms.

So instead of calling them Open Stack or any other fancy kind of name, let’s call them all what they are: plumbing. Necessary, but fundamentally boring to almost everybody.

The question becomes this: a lot of plumbing supply companies are rather successful businesses, and high-priced plumbing supplies do indeed sell. What is it that these guys know that we OpenID / Open Stack guys don’t?