Critical Section

Archive: March 19, 2003

<<< March 18, 2003


March 20, 2003 >>>

I Don't Get .Net

Wednesday,  03/19/03  02:27 PM

Hello, my name is Ole, and I don't get .Net.

If you know what .Net is, and can explain it to a reasonably intelligent software engineer, please send me email.  I will be so happy, and you will become famous; I promise to post your explanation with full attribution right here, on this website, for everyone to see (my 7 regular visitors).

Microsoft created this concept they call "dot-net", but nobody seems to have a good handle on what it is.  In fact, nobody even seems to know how to spell it, is it ".Net" or "dot-net" or "DotNet"?

This has to be one of the worst names for something ever.  How many names can you think of which begin with a period?  Do you think everyone missed out on the potential for starting names with a period?  Not to mention, there is already such a thing as ".net", it is a top-level Internet domain.  (Generally used by ISPs, for example, my service provider is Pacific Bell, and their domain name is  Strangely, the Microsoft "dot-net" doesn't seem to have anything to do with the Internet ".net". 

It isn't even clear what category .Net fits into, let alone what it is.  Here are some possibilities:

  • Is it a product?  If so, where do I buy it?  What does it do for me? 
  • Is it an architecture?  If so, where is it documented?  What does it do for me?
  • Is it a software technology?  If so, how do I use it?  What does it do for me?

Microsoft has a .net website, which features a page called What is .NET?  Unfortunately this page is misnamed, it does not explain what .NET is (visit it and see).  You would think a couple of paragraphs on this page would be helpful, but apparently the secret must be kept.

I'm not the only one who is confused.  Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer explains:

 "One question might be, and I'll be as direct as I can be about this, what is .Net?  Unlike Windows, where you could say it's a product, it sits in one place, it's got a nice little box.  In some senses, it's a very good question." - July 2002

Well, that was a good effort, but apparently there were some people like me who still didn't get it, so later Steve tried again:

"It's about connecting people to people, people to information, businesses to businesses, businesses to information, and so on.  That is the benefit." - October 2002

Believe it or not, this did not clear things up for me.  Apparently I was not alone, because several Microsoft engineers put together a website called GotDotNet.  (It is at, not to be confused with  If you visit this website, don't expect to find an explanation.  Maybe these people really "got" dot-net, but they appear unwilling to share the secret.

Last July at ".Net briefing day", Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates was asked "what is .Net".  That was the question, and here was his answer:

"We don't have the user-centricity.  Until we understand context, which is way beyond presence -- presence is the most trivial notion of context."

I just don't get it.

[ Later: Okay, well, maybe I'm Starting to Get .NET... ]


Wednesday,  03/19/03  08:43 PM

Well, the war has started.  You won't get the best analysis from me.  But I encourage you to get many cross bearings - visit CNN, but also visit foreign websites and bloggers.  At times like this it is really hard to know what is really going on, you have to average over many sites.  Google News is as always invaluable, the "and 1459 related" links give you all the coverage on a given story.  And bloggers like Instapundit and are good because they drop so many links.  Like - here's a blogger in Baghdad.

Here is the text of Tony Blair's speech yesterday before the House of Commons.  I find it to be, as the Guardian reports, "nothing short of splendid".  Too bad such oratory has fallen out of favor in our Congress.

Seems weird that the NCAA basketball tournament starts tomorrow.  In years past I had my brackets filled out and my Tivo ready.  Thirty-two games in two days!  This year I'm just not into it.

When cricket reporters go bad...  I love it that his editors ran this.

Business 2.0 has released their annual 101 Dumbest Moments in Business.  It's pretty funny.  I do hate the way all their links are to themselves - they don't get the net.  My favorite is #89, "How the right merger can create exponential growth":

January 2002 - One year after the completion of its much-ballyhooed merger, AOL Time Warner posts a paltry quarterly loss of $1.8 billion.

April 2002 - Just three months later, AOL Time Warner announces a loss of $54.2 billion, the biggest quarterly loss in U.S. history.

January 2003 - Stunningly, a mere nine months after that -- and just two years after the consummation of the marriage -- AOL Time Warner sets another record with an annual loss of $98.7 billion.

Texas Congressman John Carter thinks jailing college students who download music will discourage piracy.  Sure, and shooting people who jaywalk will discourage jaywalking, too.

Elon Musk's new company SpaceX has successfully fired their rocket engine.  Elon previously founded Zip2, which was sold to AltaVista, and, which merged with PayPal.  It will be interesting to watch SpaceX, I would never bet against Elon...

Finally, have you seen the Iraqi U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri?  In Japan his hairdo is called a barcode.


Return to the archive.

About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji The Nest Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
the big day
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?