Contrary To Popular Belief, The Web Is Not Dead

Contrary To Popular Belief, The Web Is Not Dead

Aug 17, 2010

Chris Anderson of Wired made the audacious claim that the web is dead. While such a bold claim can’t go unchecked, Anderson’s proposal of the Web’s death is an interesting write up to how we should view the Internet and to an extension, the web.

Anderson makes his point through rethinking how the web is viewed. Typically, we’d like to think of the web as the Internet, content delivered to us, the design aspects of a website, graphic design etc. Anderson says the web, sites you visit, the actual HTML content that helps power the Internet will die as developers move towards closed platforms and use the Internet to deliver data to smartphone based apps. While it may seem like an Escher-esque concept, Anderson makes an interesting point, but he is right about the move to a closed model of content delivery:

“It’s driven primarily by the rise of the iPhone model of mobile computing, and it’s a world Google can’t crawl, one where HTML doesn’t rule. And it’s the world that consumers are increasingly choosing, not because they’re rejecting the idea of the Web but because these dedicated platforms often just work better or fit better into their lives (the screen comes to them, they don’t have to go to the screen). The fact that it’s easier for companies to make money on these platforms only cements the trend. Producers and consumers agree: The Web is not the culmination of the digital revolution.”

From Anderson’s perspective, the Web will soon be a shell of its former self, an engine to toss bits back and forth, bits that have no real meaning or represent anything worth consuming. The evidence to support Chris’ claims? A chart of data consumption estimates from Cisco showing HTML traffic on a sharp decline contrasted by a rise in video traffic. However, traffic delivered from sites such as YouTube (which are very much apart of the HTML category) are lumped in with the broader category of video traffic which encompasses Skype video calls and Netflix streaming content (which aren’t apart of the HTML category. This error causes excess growth and excess decline to be factored in to Wired’s graph which power their bold claim of the web’s death.

The shift Anderson is seeing comes from developers wanting more options. The web, and to an extent the browser promised a future of web Apps that would eventually replace desktop Apps. Both platforms failed to promise the options mobile Applications would give developers (location awareness, augmented reality) but those features are already making their way back from mobile devices to the browser. These environments are in a constant tug of war for developers but in no ways an indicator on the web’s death.

While content delivery is moving towards easier to use mobile applications and closed systems, I don’t believe Wired’s claims of the web’s death are viable. Not when it’s been backed by a Orwellian like future for the web being reduced to a dumb pipe that tosses useless bits around.

VIa: Gawker

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