In the past few weeks, I’ve been struck by the thought that the web is dissolving. There used to be a time (like 6 years ago!) where we could only browse the web in specific places, from specific devices, at specific times and then, we would go on specific sites.
The web is dissolving in geographical space
In the early days of the internet, we would talk about the connected people at home or at work. When we used to go to my parents little ski studio in the french Alps, there was no internet, not even in the “village”. Today, they’re thinking about wiring up the whole building on the same basis as they put water or electricity in it.
Most of the commercial flights over the US now offer Wifi! I’m not even talking about all these new shiny smart phones, but basically, the number of places where you cannot be connected is shrinking like crazy.
The web is dissolving into time
When I was a kid, we would have a limiter number of “computer” and “tv” per week. The goal was obviously to open up to the rest of the world. I’m not sure about today’s kids, but what I know is that I kind send or receive emails at any time, fact check at any time of the night… There is no time for some web browsing anymore.
The web is dissolving from our computers
5 years I ago, I had at most 2 applications on my computer which would be “web ready”, which would be able to communicate with other apps outside of my computer : my web browser and my email client.
At this moment, out of the 12 apps that are running on my laptop, 9 of them do actually send and get data from the web (at least explictly!). At the same time, my OS itself keeps getting update from “the cloud” and many of my desktop apps sync data with existing web services : calendars, contacts, pictures or even files, with apps like Dropbox. It even goes further than this, with more and more devices connected all the time to the internet (and sometime, devices who couldn’t work without some kind of connection to it, like fitbit). There is no more single internet endpoint.
The web is dissolving from our websites
This I think is the most intriguing fact. There used to be a time where I would be on NYT.com, on Craigslist, or even on my wells fargo account. This is dissolving too : the data I consume is more and more decoupled from the publishing site. I very rarely go to NYT.com’s home page, however, I keep consuming it from links I see passing by, from news reader… etc. My bank account? I access it from Mint.
The next step is to actually have a true data freedom, where not only my data is exportable, but also where it is in sync : I update my status on service Y, and service X knows about it. I add a friend on Facebook and Flickr knows about it too. My web profile will become this “bus” of data about me that people can access from several endpoints (like Twitter, or LinkedIn, or this blog), and not a huge archipelago of small bits that I need to update one by one.