I met today with Jim Wissner, Chief Architect and co-founder of my company, Radar Networks. Jim started the company along with me and Kris Thorisson several years ago when we were just a few guys doing futuristic R&D. Jim has been working for a few months on a "secret project" in his spare time, and today I finally got to see it.
I have been hearing rumors of Jim's secret project from some of the other guys on the team for weeks -- but whenever I asked Jim about it he would just get a gleam in his eye and say something like, "Wellllll yeah, I've been thinking about something interesting... but there's nothing to show yet..." Anyway, I've known Jim long enough to know that whenever he's coy about some "something interesting" it is probably going to be something pretty damn impressive. So I didn't bug him too much -- I just figured when it was time he would show me.
Today Jim started out by saying he hoped he hadn't set my expectations too high. So I automatically assumed it was just going to be some little widget. But as soon as I saw it I realized that he has built something really MAJOR. In fact, I'm kind of in awe that one developer -- even a developer as good as Jim -- could have done it all himself in just a few months of hacking. He really outdid himself this time.
Jim has built something that I think could become a cornerstone of the coming Semantic Web infrastructure. It's something that he has been dreaming about for a couple of years -- but I never imagined that he would actually find time to build it. As Jim put it today, "Well I finally just decided, since I've been talking about this for years, I should just go ahead and build it. It's a lot easier to understand when you see it working."
So what has Jim built? I can't say what it is yet, but suffice to say it's something that I think every developer involved in the semantic web space is going to benefit from. It's definitely more of a developer oriented thing -- but something that could catalyze a lot of new innovation, growth and collaboration.
After Jim's demo I met with Chris and Lew (who were equally impressed and had seen it earlier during technical discussions with Jim) and we began to discuss the timeline for releasing what Jim has made. We all think it will be a big piece of what we roll out when we go beta. So those of you who are curious -- you won't have to wait that long (but be sure to sign up for our mailing list on the Radar Networks site so you get notified of the closed beta).
I haven't blogged much about Jim's contribution to the company yet, but for those who don't know, he singlehandedly built several iterations of our platform. He is a huge part of the DNA of our company but I haven't acknowledged his contributions in public enough. Partly that's because he's our secret weapon, and partly that's because he tends to prefer to avoid any sort of hype -- so he's been patiently waiting until we launch before speaking publicly about what he's built.
Jim is a true semantic web "guru" -- as well as inventing our platform, he was also the chief architect for our work on the DARPA CALO program. Jim is a big piece of what Radar Networks is, and in the future, as we begin to roll out our platform I think people in the Semantic Web development community are going to be extremely interested in what he has built.
As Jim would be the first to point out: we've got a lot of other great talent in our company and they have all made enormous contributions to various aspects of what we're doing. It's not just him. To do something as broad as what we're building requires a great engineering team, and several great architects, not just one person. That's true. But it's also fair to say that Jim started our engineering team and has been quietly laying the foundations for several years and without his leadership it would never have happened.
So this post is a special thank you to Jim. We couldn't have done what we're doing without him and I feel extremely grateful that he joined me in co-founding this back in our New York days before we moved to San Francisco. This post is in recognition of the truly impressive work Jim's been doing.
As we begin to roll out our platform, Jim (and our other developers) will begin to blog and speak more publicly about our platform. I do think other folks working in the semantic web area, or writing about it, will find what they have built to be quite interesting, comprehensive, and useful.
OK well I've said enough. Jim is probably going to be somewhat horrified by such high praise. But it's well deserved and long overdue.