On Tuesday, October 3, 2006, the Dow Jones Industrial Average set a new record high – the first since January 14, 2000, more than six and one-half years ago.

In the United States, the Dow (as this 30-stock index is popularly known) is the arguably the most widely quoted stock-market index. However, many people, myself included, believe that it’s not the most accurate assessment of the condition of the U.S. economy. Other indices, such as Nasdaq, survey a much wider array of stocks, and use a better algorithm – and haven’t fared as well. The Nasdaq, for example, is at less than half the value it had in January 2000.

If we take a step back, however, it’s not all as doom-and-gloom as the stock prices would indicate. Back in early 2000, we were at the peak of a technology bubble. Prices were unnaturally high in those heady days, with price/earnings ratios that exhibit the irrational exuberance that U.S. Federal Research chairman Alan Greenspan warned about in 1996. He was right, and the market came crashing down… to where it belonged.

So, forget about the stock market, forget about the Dow Jones record. Look at the fundamentals: The computer industry has changed, and the software development industry has matured. Software is central to every aspect of corporate life, and thanks to Web portals like Amazon.com, YouTube and MySpace, it’s central to our personal life as well.

Yes, your stock options might still be underwater, and your retirement fund may not be back at its bubble values (mine certainly isn’t). However, take solace in the reality that our industry is growing at a reasonable pace, and a healthier one.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

What do Tim Berners-Lee, Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing having in common? I’m not entirely sure. But that’s the title of a newly arrived book, “Thinking on the Web: Berners-Lee, Gödel and Turing,” by Peter Alesso and Craig Smith. I’m intrigued.

The back cover says:

Tim Berners-Lee, Kurt Gödel, and Alan Turing are the pivotal pioneers who opened the door to the Information Revolution, beginning with the introduction of the computer in the 1950s and continuing today with the World Wide Web evolving into a resource with intelligent features and capabilities. Taking the main questions posed by these thinkers—”What is decidable?” by Gödel, “What is machine intelligence?” by Turing, and “What is solvable on the Web?” by Berners-Lee—as jumping-off points, Thinking on the Web offers an incisive guide to just how much “intelligence” can be projected onto the Web.

One of the benefits of being a technology journalist/analyst is that books like this show up, unannounced, courtesy of publishing companies (in this case, Wiley), who hope that I’ll review it. Dozens of titles show up on my doorstep each month; a few get kept, but most are donated to a local junior college library. This one looks interesting; I’ll read it on my next plane trip, and let you know what I think. If you’ve already read it, feel free to beat me to it and post your own comments.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

My colleague Larry O’Brien has weighed in regarding Borland’s moves to rename/reposition/rejigger its Core SDP products into a new set of application life cycle suites. One upon a time, Larry was one of the biggest and most loyal Borland supporters imaginable, but his faith has waned, and waned and waned, and now it has waned some more.

His current blog posting is “Borland Gives Up On Core SDP: I Wonder How Much That Cost ‘Em?”, and it references one of his older SD Times columns from 2004, “Only Nixon Would Go To China.” Both are worth reading.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick