This is why some people want you to believe that the World (Wide Web) is coming to an end.
Let s face it: by the looks of it, you d think the World Wide Web is about to implode.
Spam, identity theft, cyber-bullying and ransomware are more rampant than ever. Some think that the labor required to make the web safe is about as pointless as a turtle on its back. If that weren t enough, we get daily reports about hackers (may they be freelancers, mercenaries or government employees) joyfully Waltzing in and out of computer systems across the web, as if they weren t even trying to look through our emails, bank accounts and phone selfies.
Yes, when you think about it with a glass-half-empty attitude, reading all of the above, even in the screaming rants of a homeless guy at a street corner, doesn t sound so out there, anymore.
The problem with those who think that the web is really coming to an end, is that they focus on the wrong aspect of why the web isn t safe: Internet browsers.
One common argument about websites versus apps, is the same made against the Chromebook when it was first introduced: web apps are useless without an Internet connection.
I m not dancing around it: it s the stupidest argument i have ever heard, and a dangerous notion to be toying with, as it lays the foundation for a future Internet, as prime real estate for proprietary app makers.
The other argument i often hear is that proprietary apps are more reliable and work faster than web apps. How can an app with access to the same network resources as a website, be faster?
Case in point: i am typing this article using Google Drive. If i am on my phone or tablet, i have the choice of using either the Google Docs app, or i could simply open Google Drive in Chrome or Safari, if i were on an iOS device.
If i were to use Microsoft OneDrive, i would have exactly the same options. I can use Word Online to write my articles, across devices, using any stock web browser available.
Both versions of the same service works identically. I can autosave just as fast, i can format my text in every which way i want, i can add media, and i can publish my articles, just as fast, and as reliably, as i would on a proprietary app.
How could i ever believe the notion that mobile apps will outright replace websites, turning the web into nothing more than street signage?
1. Killing the Web means killing freedom of speech, and free access to data.
Hundred of millions of people around the world rely on self-publishing services, to have a voice.
Hypothetical lobbyists in favor of such revolution will love nothing more than the demise of the free Web, as the possibility for revenue would be staggering. The largest conglomerates in the world will likely jump at the opportunity to squeeze subscribers like lemons, by investing in a new Internet dominated by proprietary platforms.
Remember: this is an extreme hypothetical scenario, so bear with me, but would i be too bold if i were to fear the criminalization of web browsers altogether? If you think that s extreme, something like that is happening right now, with the Tor browser.
If you aren t familiar with Tor, Google it, read about it, then come back. It s worth the time.
Tor is essentially a giant network of Internet users who share their resources to allow you and i to surf the web in complete anonymity and safe from tracking cookies and other forms of detection. The Tor browser is built to connect to the Tor network, so that websites trying to find out more than you want them to know about you, will yield only a spoofed IP with bogus information.
2. Internet without the Web will systematically kill small business
Maybe you own a small business, or maybe you are a sole proprietor like me. Many of us are able to advertise our business, and make a living, thanks to the Web.
Doing away with websites, means that those who can afford to pay for the privilege of publishing their content in walled-garden apps, will be the only ones who will get any kind of benefit from the Internet itself.
Let s face it, running a small business is expensive and hard enough as it is, even without the IRS giving you the stink-eye once a year.
Businesses need the ability to advertise and be visible, without being strangled by proprietary directories. Without the web, businesses will have to revert to a pre-Web Yellow-Pages era of expensive premiums, for a tiny banner at the bottom of Candy Crush Saga, which brings me to the third reason why i don't think the web will disappear.
3. Web hosting is the price we pay to keep the Internet free
If your business runs a decent website, you are paying for web hosting, either monthly or yearly. So far, the biggest problem with that is getting a good deal to keep costs down. Fortunately, web hosting is an easy bargain. Competition is fierce, and decent shared servers are widely affordable.
Once you have Web hosting, and a domain, all you need to do is work on your content, follow the rules and promote. This is how everyone does it, and those who do it well, get results. Access to Web hosting creates opportunities for everyone and every business.
Taking websites out of the equation means that businesses will have to turn to another kind of service provider to reach consumers through the Internet.
Let s rewind back to the early 1970s, a time in which walled garden network accessibility sounds eerily similar to what the Internet would be, without the Web.
In 1973, the British Broadcasting Corporation created a service called TeleText, which was designed as the first concept of paperless newspaper. The service was clunky, slow, and very expensive for both consumers and advertisers. Also, it was the 1970s, a time in which most regular consumers had very little understanding of computer networks, and the electronic sharing of information.
TeleText failed, quite miserably, as soon as the Web appeared, and personal computing became affordable.
The fundamental working principle of TeleText, is to offer consumers an option to receive information right in their homes, without having to buy newspapers on a daily basis.
Those who think that they can do happily away with the Web as we know it, forget that the simple ability to read the news, a blog or learning from a tutorial, on a web browser, is crucial for these services to stay free, the way content creators meant it.
So... is the Web doomed or not?
Not by a long shot.
The Web is driven by an industry, millions depend on to keep paying the bills. From web developers like me, to marketers, to search engines like Google, a company that has done more for small businesses, than any other corporation in history, allowing businesses to advertise for free, and promote themselves through organic search.
Ultimately, it s important to understand that, by the same token of all that i have shared so far, proprietary apps are indeed useful and there is no valid argument against the development of standalone apps.
There are things that standalone apps can do, that web apps simply can t, but most of these functions are often not related to the web, such as graphically enhanced games unable to run due to browser limitations, or business and government applications that require specialized access to corporate networks, which would be extremely unsafe to carry through a web browser.
The Web is here to stay, regardless of what some say, wearable tech and mobile apps are not going to kill the most important, and free technology we will ever have.
13th March, 2015
13th March, 2015
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