I was in the USA on business and at Chicago O hare, I picked up a copy of Wired and looking forward to some intellectual insights on the ‘Web is dead’ story on Wired.
When I read the article, I was disappointed but my overriding impression was: If the Web were REALLY dead, then it would look like the print version of Wired magazine (more advertising, less content) and thank God it does not …
Is it me or does anyone else find Wired VERY hard to read? It seems almost a group of advertisements masquerading like a magazine. Advertising has overtaken content by a wide margin. The index is hard to find. The content is very fragmented and some pages don’t even have page numbers (see below) ..
That’s what happens when advertising dominates .. Which brings us to the article with its statements like ‘Now it’s the Web’s turn to face the pressure for profits ..’
The discussion itself is a wider rehash of the old Web vs. apps debate. The difference is extension of the debate to the Web vs. Internet(more on that below). To recap, by ‘web’, we mean ‘http + HTML’ and it’s evolutions. By ‘Internet’, I mean IP based services.
The main problem of this article is false and incomplete comparisons.
1) A confusion between Business models and technology: The assumption that the Web is based on the free/advertising/Long tail model and ‘paid’ models cannot be developed on the web. This is wrong. Google Chrome is building payment technologies on the Web and also cool browser based games. Advertisements can also be created (see I cannot believe it is not flash ) on web technology from companies like Opera, Google and others who are pushing browser technology to its limits. So, the article’s fundamental premise that it’s the web’s turn to show profits is based on some seriously confused classification between technology and business model
2) Open vs. closed .. Again same problem. Open vs. closed is a philosophical / business model issue. It is not a technology issue. By that I mean you can use the web and even open source to build commercially closed systems.
3) Push content is ‘non web’: here we go again .. Push has a role. No reason why the web cannot also include push content
5) The assumption that the mobile web is always about browsing (Ignoring Web widgets on mobile devices): Web widgets are based on HTML. They are thus a part of web technology. Functionally, they are similar to apps. By ignoring web widgets, there is a false comparison i.e. the assumption that the mobile web is always about browsing
6) ‘Technology(web) has eclipsed content’ so far and now ‘it is time for content to eclipse technology’ – These kind of sweeping statements show the shallow depth of this article. Steve Jobs is used to ‘showcase’ this concept. This ignores the main point that the context of iTunes was ‘Napster’ i.e. 99c > 0c for the record companies. It was a once in a lifetime event. Ain’t gonna happen again! (see how long Hulu took to create a business model because media companies are wiser )
7) A confusion between Consumption technology vs. communication technology: On Page 68 (and the actual page itself does not have a page number – you have to infer it), there is an article called ‘About facetime by Stephen Levy’ which says that ‘Apple sees facetime as an open standard’ .. THAT’S the whole point. The debate is not between TECHNOLGY vs. CONTENT it is between COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY vs. CONSUMPTION TECHNOLOGY. iPhone / iPod is consumption technology. Always has been. When it comes to communication (facetime), Apple is ‘Open’. Thus, the Steven levy article contradicts the ‘web is dead’. And the Steven Levy article is right!
8 ) Cross stack comparison: I wondered why no one else has done this comparison before (Web vs. Internet). The answer is – it’s a false comparison since it is across the stack. The web is one application on the internet. The internet is the underlying network layer connectivity mechanism platform. You can compare two application layer elements but you cannot compare the network layer to the application layer.
There is an attempt to provide a legitimacy to this half baked analysis through a ‘polite’ debate between Chris Anderson and Tim O Reilly. I don’t know why Tim bothers to enter this debate since it’s got so many holes in it IMHO
Wired has done some seminal writing before and let’s hope that this sloppy article is a one off and not the start of a slippery slope. I think this article is an attempt (and there have been many before) of foisting the content model on the Web. There will be others.
If this vision is fulfilled, and if the web were REALLY dead .. It would look like the print version of wired magazine(more advertising less content) but thank god it does not ..