Saturday, September 04, 2010

Is the Web Dead?

Much is being made of the recent article, in fact the lead article in the September issue of Wired Magazine. The front cover screams the news "The Web is Dead". The concept and major point of the article is that the Internet of the web browser is reaching its last legs. For the first few decades, at least since the invention of HTML, the Internet has been defined by the Web. We browsed it, which is why the way we see it is through browsers. I know there will be those who will roll their eyes at that statement.

It could be said that the criticism is unfair, that neither author, Chris Anderson or Michael Wolffe see the demise of the web as we know it. They don't. They do foresee a future when most of us will be going to an Internet of apps and the API.

An important piece of the explanation is the graph:

The graph demonstrates how things have changed, FTP is a thing of the past as is newsgroups. Email is on the way out, probably due to the overwhelming amount of spam that clogs all our mail folders. What we have is video, peer to peer and, what's this still the web. They almost defeat their own purpose.

What is driving this, to continue the article is things such as Facebook, which has become the destination all the time for all sorts of people. It almost seems that Facebook wants you to log on and stay, almost as AOL did back in the day.

One of the paragraphs state:
But the Web is a different matter. The marketplace has spoken: When it comes to the applications that run on top of the Net, people are starting to choose quality of service. We want TweetDeck to organize our Twitter feeds because it’s more convenient than the Twitter Web page. The Google Maps mobile app on our phone works better in the car than the Google Maps Web site on our laptop. And we’d rather lean back to read books with our Kindle or iPad app than lean forward to peer at our desktop browser.

I suppose this is the truth. The apps on the mobile devises or tablet PC's, of which the iPad is only the first, seem to want to make life very easy and very controlled. Also there's the whole matter of monetization. The Promised Land has always been that you can get rich on the web. History has proven you actually can't, well unless you're Google, or have such a great site and product that you're bought up by Google.

It is the apps that make the money, apparently. This is true if you get past the gatekeepers at Apple. If they believe in your app and it is placed in the iTune Store, there is a way to make a few dollars. I suppose a lot of media groups are taking advantage of this fact and making apps to sell that present their content to people who just want to read the news, or their email, or watch a few videos, or comment on Twitter.

It is convenience. We don't have the time, plus on mobile devises, the web is a bit difficult. When you're used to something like a 1920x 1440 and then try to view the same thing on a screen that could be a couple of inches in diagonal, it's easy to see why that would not be a nice experience.

There are those who question the ideas, in fact one of the most directed criticism has to do with the graph. The most excellent site Boing Boing suggests this should be the graph:

So instead of web using declining, it too is increasing. They ask the question in the article, "Is the Web really dead?". Part of their premise has to do with amounts, they ask:
It's also worth adding that bandwidth, though an interesting measure of the internet's growth, isn't so good for measuring consumption. It doesn't map to time spent, work done, money invested, wealth yielded... Does 50MB of YouTube kitteh represent more meaningful growth than a 5MB Wired feature? And, as others point out in the comments, many of the new trends are still reliant on the web to work, especially social networking.

Which has the most digits? Of course the video. An article, like a document is very sparse in using bits so in one way its unfair.

If it was just making money, then the premise would be correct, but if anything the Internet has proven to be a hard place to make money. Everyone tries to invent the Internet to suit their idea and image. There is a place for apps, it is growing and probably is thriving. Although I have heard that google apps is not the place to be if you want to make some money. Also, it can be said we want easy, simple and straightforward. Wny fire up the desktop or laptop, when the information we need is available on our phone or tablet- and it will take a lot less time.

The problem is that people have never done very well behind the garden walls; AOL did try to keep everybody in their place, but they lost out to the web. Even when they offered to give a limited access, people left in droves. There is nothing to say the walled garden will succeed this time. I think people like Facebook as a way to connect, but I don't think they see it as the be all and end all of the Internet. It is a good place to keep in touch with people, and it should be seen as that and perhaps nothing more. It's also a place to play games and can I be honest, I don't care about your farm. There I said it.

Another problem is that so many of our mobile devises are for consumption, not creation. If the web and Internet has demonstrated anything, we are a creative bunch and when given the tools we like to take a lot of photographs and videos and all sorts of thing. I realize most of it is probably not that good, but the sheer volume says a lot of it will be good as well. By the way, you can't use those devises to upload video to YouTube, for instance. You got to use the Web. Funny.

Again, we like convenience. But we are content providers not just consumers. To state we can re-enter that phase of life again is silly. We were consumers for almost all of the 20th century, but when the tools became available, we all became content providers. Anyone who ignores this fact is foolish. Apple risks a great deal by not putting either a USB or card reader into the iPad. It could be a great photo editing devise, but it won't unless there is a way to add photographs.

I heard this description of the difference between the two, the web and apps. The Apps is like the suburbs or at least like a gated community. You know what you are getting, it is neat, it is safe. You have this sense of protection. The web is like the inner city, or downtown core, yeah you have to be careful but there's some really interesting things going on and very interesting things to see.

Is the Web dead? No. Is the Internet changing, of course it is. Apps are part of the natural evolution. People will make money through apps, until the system kind of collapses under the weight of too many flashlight and farting apps.

There should be something else about gated communities. The guy at the gate is named Wally and he's just making a few cents above minimum wage. When he sees the angry mob with torches and pitchforks coming; he's opening the gates.

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