I wanted to comment on your statement about hackers building web services, since it is so apt and accurate.
At JavaOne a few weeks ago, everyone was talking about the goal of web services interoperability. My partner and I, on the other hand, did not talk about such goals, but actually went and built an application that demonstrated these principles.
Our JavaOne demo garnered at lot of attention from the big players, since it integrated GPS (position), wireless, embedded real-time Java (on a chip), web services, J2EE and .NET into a seamless, interoperable whole, using a mixture of open source, free and commercial software. Not to mention some geek coolosity factor by way of the mobile platform that was seen driving around the Pavillion floor.
Details on the Mobile GPS Demonstration Platform, and some hints as to where we plan to take it for the next incarnation are available in a white paper which I have attached (in .pdf format) to this email.
I find it amusing that two developers outcoded all the big boys at the recent JavaOne conference. And in the process helped Sun to improve their web services tools immensely (ie. we provided a lot of input into the recent Java Web Services Developer Pack EA2 release as a result of this project).
As you have noted, most true innovation is done by small groups of hackers following a different paradigm than the big companies. The sad part is that eventually the big companies co-opt the new paradigm and try to re-write history to show that they were the innovators.