Wired’s Article on the “Web is Dead”

I had to concur with Wired’s article about the web dying posted a couple of days ago. After reading “both sides” as well as some of the comments, I wanted to offer my brief thoughts regarding the web, open standards, and the paradigm shift to mobile. While I think HTML is and has always been a markup that is valuable in understanding how the web browser displays information, I have to agree that the Technological shift to mobile has completely changed how obtain information.

Consider application use today. We log on with our devices to Pandora, Netflix, Amazon, Facebook,  Twitter, or Hulu – a very small monopoly on their respective functions. Yes, you can use your web browser to access these services, and devices even have their own web browsers built in. But there are so many “apps” these days that one can sort of foresee that learning how to make mobile apps that deal with Java, Flash Lite, or Objective C will be more valuable than knowing how to make web apps in HTML, Flash, and AJAX/Javascript.

Thankfully, good practice in general application development has always been to have the front end a simple output of the backend. The SQL to PHP/JSP/Ruby to frontend will continue though the frontend will just change. The web, being 18 years old now, changed slowly. So in a way I feel web developers have seen this change coming.

As an online game developer, I see how games now connect to dozens of API (such as Facebook) to become an “app” on the service. These services attempt to connect players to social networks which now can be access from someone’s phone. I think online “web” games will experience a shift into “apps” integrated into social networks and streams – you will see games ran on different mobile, console, and tablet devices using the same backend. While this technique has been done by some gaming companies, it’s only been done recently. Watch and see – very soon you’ll see multiplayer games where IPhone players can play chess/checkers/poker against browser players. Eventually, as mobile devices increase in memory and performance, I bet you’ll see some more bandwidth intensive games (such as shooters or real time strategy games) be multiplayer across platforms.

I’m sure there’s much that can be said about how UI/Product designers will be affected. Those job holders will have to increasingly be aware of all of the affordances and constraints of various devices. Yes, making a product for 30 different mobile phones and devices is WAY more difficult than making a web application work for 3 or 4 different browsers and resolutions.

Anyway, I think the lesson and proper reaction is to be thankful of XML, JSON, and general HTTP request modeling that front ends like Flash, Java, Objective C, and all of the open source libraries that allow parsing with the various backend server structures and clouds. And above all we should be thankful for Tim Berners-Lee and his decision to keep the Internet open so we can adapt to these changes – let’s just hope the web remains neutral :-).

What I don’t like about the Wired article is their “debate” on who is to blame for the end of the web as we know it. Should we blame Google, Apple, and Microsoft or should we blame ourselves? My concern isn’t on the debate, my debate is on the principal of sides in the debate.

I think a wiser statement than saying the web is dying is to say the web is evolving. The web has simply evolved to this state. I approach the deterioration of web pages as a natural and predictable phase of the Internet’s evolution based on the capabilities of hardware today. I guess a debate does exist in where giants such Apple releasing products like the IPad, IPhone, or most relevantly the App store accelerated the “virtual selection?” Well, I don’t know how to answer that question, but I think it’s unquestionable that Apple, Google, and Microsoft haven’t helped nurture and shape the Internet to its current state. Who knows? If Google had released that Chrome OS they hinted about earlier this year (that I predicted in 2005 would be an all browser HTML and JavaScript based operating system ) before Apple launched the App store then maybe I would be saying HTML 5 is the future. Maybe now it’s too late and it would be better to go with an Internet OS that’s all app based… Or maybe there’s room for both the web AND the Internet.