The September issue of Wired contained an article: “The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet.” Writers Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff each give their opinion of who is to blame (one chooses “Us” and the other chooses “Them”).
Among many others, I emphatically disagree. The Web is not dead. The reality is that the Web has grown and shifted so much that it is no longer in its infancy. The Web is now in adolescence.
The writers are quick to make the distinction between the Web (Web sites, Web pages, Web searching, and the like) and the Internet (the vast worldwide network and set of protocols on which the Web resides and functions).
The basis of their report of death, or more accurately, the assertion of the decline that most assuredly is leading to an impending death, is a reported decline in Web browser usage. Anderson and Wolff made the distinction between users of the Internet accessing email, newsgroups, RSS feeds, etc., versus users of applications (“apps”) that use the Internet but not necessarily the Web.
Of course there are mobile phone apps that run on smart phones such as the iPhone or the Droid. The authors make the point that people with these devices use apps to access the data they want without the having to use a Web browser. The Facebook app is an extremely popular example.
With regard to the “push” vs. “pull” technologies that stream data directly to your mobile device or computer, “pull” is old school. The authors say no one searches anymore; data is either being pushed or simply accessed directly by an app.
While the technologies mentioned in the article work nicely and are enjoying a growth period, people continue to use the Web…Especially to search…Every day…In large volumes….
The “push” concept on a mobile device, which is replacing the RSS, is used for things like stocks, sports scores, headlines, etc. But the real world lives in the minute. Yeah, there’s an app for that, but there’s always the Web. People continue to want to find information their own way.
What real people do when they have something they need or want to know about, they say, “Hey! Let me Google that.” Things like definitions, old movies, what’s on TV, product searches (and purchases), local restaurants, local businesses, and so on. The notion Anderson and Wolff gave is that, instead of using free information from the Web, more and more people are willing to pay for the apps and connections to information they want. This is hard to accept, especially in the current economic climate.
The fact that companies consistently use their advertising efforts to direct people to their Web sites speaks volumes about how they perceive the “health” of the Web. We’ve all heard, “For more information, check out our Web site at www.ourcompany.com.” And now, there is a new approach that has become popular: “Share your story at Toyota.com/Facebook.” Yes there’s a Facebook app but no one’s going to use their phone to share their story.
A wise investor once said, “If you want to know about the health of a company, watch people. If you see long lines at the cash registers, that company is doing something right.” The same can be said about the Web. People search on the Web every day. They buy on the Web every day. Even youngsters with an iPhone and a Facebook app use the Web everyday. I’ve seen my 20-year-old nephew come home wanting to continue Facebooking, so he leaves his phone on the table and walks over to the computer to access what he wants – on the Web.
The Web is alive, well and here to stay!