A while back Frank Gilbane and I were talking. One of the outcomes of our chat was that he graciously asked me to be a Guest Author for the Gilbane Report Blog. This is my first foray for Frank’s blogosphere, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. With that….

Recently closing on Oracle’s acquisition of the company I founded (www.contextmedia.com), and having lived in what we considered the “unstructured” data market for ECI/EII for over six years, presents a chance to look back, and perhaps, at what lies ahead.

Where we’ve been- Sowing the seeds for ECI
The gestation for Context Media as a concept and idea began with my tenure at Netscape. The first company I founded, InSoft, was acquired by Netscape in late ’95 and provided a multimedia and realtime collaborative footing for the company with products and standards (LiveMedia, LiveAudio, LiveVideo, Media Server, Conference), 1st Shared Whiteboard, H.323, and RTSP for streaming). Those years, now ten short years ago, saw the exponential growth of “content.” Information heretofore inaccessible became as simple to access as clicking on an URL and experiencing instantaneous gratification. It is no wonder that Netscape set the bar and the table for the years to come.

Remember “information wants to be free ?” And even with the mis-guided notion that copyrighted material should all be free and readily accessible, it is critical to remember what is was like to be able to search and find information immediately, particularly knowledge that was domain specific to you and your job ? This “high value” content was previously locked in its own proprietary silo.

What was that ? Well, considering that even the Document Management sector was not yet a big market, it typically meant that the silo was a file server somewhere in your company. Web serving and HTTP made it relatively simple to “HTML-ize” this kind of data and make it available. Old geeks like myself who were used to authoring in nroff/troff and interconnecting file systems with NFS mounts began to see the light with HTML. In house file servers with NFS mounts interconnecting them were the norm. That was considered early stage collaboration. This state of sharing which at the time felt cool and leading edge was rendered obsolete almost overnite by the web. The web became the new lingua franca. Hacking the UNIX /etc/hosts became a thing of the past. The web server opened the world of content.

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