10 Feb 2010

The end of the Internet as we know it?

I came across a very thought-provoking article on how the Internet is splintering. From login-protected no-go areas (much of which is outside the scope of Google's search engine); proprietory platforms, like Kindle, Blackberry, iPhone, and Android; incompatible apps meant for unique platforms like Blackberry or iPhones, or for social networks like Facebook or Twitter; and even varying screen formats of PCs, mobile devices and Tablets!

All this means that the whole look, feel and experience is highly dissimilar on different devices. And as the number of such devices increase (last week it was the iPad), we'll need to reconsider the way we view the entire Internet (which by the way, is an incorrect term as it refers to the physical network) as a single homogenous medium!

By Jove, he's right!

Buuut... a lot of techies and developers disagreed (although some were a little more vehement than others). Their contention is that the web is more integrated, compatible and following more 'open standards' than ever before. And that their work is making it even more so. They point to CMS, RSS feeds, W3C standards, and soon-to-be, HTML 5.0...

All this means that 'content' can indeed move across devices. Let's take the example of a viral video migrating from a mobile device, via Youtube on a PC to a Facebook page on an iPhone.

Hmmm, they're right too. Dang!

Ok, let's step back in time, say 5 years, and view it from a different angle... Is the Inter- sorry, the web more closed, fragmented and incompatible, or is it more open, integrated and seamless?

Of course, it's the latter.

But let's step a little further back in time, say the mid-1800s, when the Wild West, a new frontier was being settled. Fences first came up around the most productive patches of land. The web equivalent would be login/subscription around the better content online.

Up to now, content on web had been largely free. But now that this content is more in demand than that of, perhaps any other medium, it's owners (like, Rupert Murdoch of News Corp or Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook) will naturally look to monetize it - either through paid subscription or by advertising.

I don't know which, or if at all either, will be successful or how successful. My bet, for now, is on advertising - highly targetted location-specific, profile-based advertising - probably delivered via a mobile device.

But whatever happens, I am absolutely certain about one thing: The web, 10 years from now, will be different. For better, or for worse...

No comments: