March 23, 2012

Pew Research Center: The Future of Apps and Web

Backscratch: The Future of Apps and Web

A Pew Internet/Elon University survey reveals that experts expect apps and the Web to converge in the cloud; but many worry that simplicity for users will come at a price.

Again, I was one of the "experts" who took part in the survey, and have been quoted.

The apps approach to accessing information on the Internet is perceived as "closed," while the traditional Web paradigm is seen as "open." "I wish it weren't true, but the history of enclosure, centralization, and consolidation makes me very pessimistic about the open Web winning over the closed apps," observed Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award winner Seth Finkelstein. "There will always be a Web, but it may end up like the imagery of a person standing on a soapbox, referred to more for its romantic symbolism than mattering in reality."

And that was indeed what I said in total.

The choose-one question started:

In 2020, the World Wide Web is stronger than ever in users' lives. The open Web continues to thrive and grow as a vibrant place where most people do most of their work, play, communication, and content creation. ....

In 2020, most people will prefer to use specific applications (apps) accessible by Internet connection to accomplish most online work, play, communication, and content creation. ...

I know that the first reaction would be to say it's not either/or. But I think it'll eventually end up as dominant/trivial. Consider someone asking "By 1950, most transportation involves internal combustion engines, versus riding horses" (for simplicity, let's skip bicycles). Now, there's still places in the US where people ride horses. And vacation areas where one can go horse-riding for recreation. But there was a shift from primarily using horses to cars, even if horses didn't vanish 100%.

Or maybe a better analogy is like farming vs big agriculture. For almost all of the US, food comes from the supermarket. Yes, there's niche home gardening. Or even a fad for raising backyard chickens. But that's a hobby. It's not quite illegal to consume raw milk from a cow. But it's considered kind of primitive, and perhaps dangerously unsanitary. I sadly suspect the open Web is going to have that sort of feel to it in the future.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in press | on March 23, 2012 05:56 PM | (Infothought permalink)