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As Long As There Are Links, The Web Will Live

The Web Isn't Even as Dead as Search (and Search is Very Much Alive)

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An article from Wired caught a lot of attention this week when it proclaimed that the Web is dead. Obviously, this is a sensational headline and a perfect example of linkbait, but it worked. It received the attention it was looking for, and it is still an interesting and thought-provoking read, though the web is far from dead. 

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A lot of the criticism over the article deals with a traffic chart it presents, and how misleading it is, but I don’t want to focus on that. That’s been ripped apart enough. look at some of the things author Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff say.

The article says, "Two decades after its birth, the World Wide Web is in decline, as simpler, sleeker services — think apps — are less about the searching and more about the getting."

This to me is more a declaration that search is dead or dying, which it is not. There will never be enough "getting" to eliminate all searching. There will always be specific needs that arise, which will require searching, and while the apps we use to do that search may be becoming more diversified, there will still be a need for that one all-encompassing gateway to search (which happens to currently be Google for the majority of people).  Not to mention the fact that we’ll need to search for the apps themselves.

I’ve talked about this diversification of search numerous times. What it boils down to is that people will not stop using search engines, they will just use them less for certain kinds of searches if they have an app that they like for that particular kind of information. This is already happening.

The article says, "Ecommerce continues to thrive on the Web, and no company is going to shut its Web site as an information resource. More important, the great virtue of today’s Web is that so much of it is noncommercial. The wide-open Web of peer production, the so-called generative Web where everyone is free to create what they want, continues to thrive, driven by the nonmonetary incentives of expression, attention, reputation, and the like. But the notion of the Web as the ultimate marketplace for digital delivery is now in doubt."

I would say, not really. How long has search been that "ultimate marketplace"? Isn’t this again, basically saying that search (not the web) is dying (which again it’s not)?

It comes down to access points and how we get our information, which threatens to reduce time spent with search, but will not eliminate it. That reduced time, is perhaps why Google really needs this "Google Me" thing to work (though we still don’t really know what this will consist of). The more apps or access points that connect you to a Google profile, the more Google can make up for that reduced time you spend searching It makes a case for that newfound interest in social games), and it certainly makes a case for why Google provides mobile ads across third-party apps.

This is all something that businesses really need to consider. If all of your eggs are in the search marketing basket, you better really start thinking about mobile and apps. Google is still a major factor here. In fact, this is very connected to Google’s recent emphasis on Places, which it has effectively turned into its own mobile app. Notice that other Google features have their own apps as well.

Google Places Icon - Launch from homescreen

All of that said, search itself will always be an app. In fact it’s usually more than that. Search is its own hard key on your phone – maybe as important an app as the browser.

A Web of Links

Clearly apps are becoming a bigger part of our lives, and may continue to dominate more of our web access, but we’re still connecting with the greater web, and the browser is certainly far from dead.

Many of the apps we use are just different ways of presenting the web’s information, and ultimately utilize links to other parts of the web. Sometimes, they even take us out of the apps and into the browser. Think about links from feed readers, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, etc. If you read a blog post, starting from some feed-reading app, and you click on a link to another post from that original post, you’re clicking through one of the web’s many paths. As long as content is connected to other content through links, the web will remain alive and well. Many of the most popular apps strongly depend on links to outside content to keep user interest. How popular do you think Facebook or Twitter would be if you couldn’t link to outside content?

We will see more convergence of the browser and the OS (iOS, Android, Chrome OS, etc.), particularly as data moves more into the cloud, but this is all just the evolution of browsing the web. Never mind the fact that the majority of PCs are far from coming with a web-based operating system at this point. This could change one day, but even then, see the above points. Desktop versions (aka: websites) of many of the apps we use are far more efficient and feature-rich than their mobile app counterparts, which is why people will continue to use those as well.

The article says, "Openness is a wonderful thing in the nonmonetary economy of peer production. But eventually our tolerance for the delirious chaos of infinite competition finds its limits. Much as we love freedom and choice, we also love things that just work, reliably and seamlessly. And if we have to pay for what we love, well, that increasingly seems OK." To that same point, it also says, "As much as we intellectually appreciate openness, at the end of the day we favor the easiest path. We’ll pay for convenience and reliability, which is why iTunes can sell songs for 99 cents despite the fact that they are out there, somewhere, in some form, for free."

There is some truth to this, which certainly lends to the fact that apps are indeed popular channels for accessing content. However, that by no means eliminates the web browser for accessing content that apps simply don’t cater to. The web browser is an app, and probably the app that trumps all other apps because of that openness and freedom of choice. When you don’t want to pay for convenience, the web browser will often come through. When there isn’t a known app for what you want, the web browser will often come through.

Michael Arrington at TechCrunch makes another great point: "Apps are great on mobile phones with small screens. But they are a pain to install and keep synchronized. Eventually having less local software will make sense on phones, too. All you really need is that browser virtual machine and you can pull everything else from the cloud. This is obvious."

In fact, the article itself says, "If a standard Web browser can act like an app, offering the sort of clean interface and seamless interactivity that iPad users want, perhaps users will resist the trend to the paid, closed, and proprietary."

It’s entirely possible that these mobile apps are the "shiny objects" of the moment, and eventually users will find that they just have too many of them to keep track of on their phones, and rather than fill up their storage, will just access more of them through their web versions via the web browser.

Is the web dying? Is search? You tell us.

As Long As There Are Links, The Web Will Live
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  • Guest

    The web is not dead, Google will be soon if they keep using that crappy algorithm. Can’t find anything lately. Using Yahoo now.

    • Chris Crum

      If you’re in the U.S. you’re really using Bing. I don’t think Google will be dying anytime soon.

  • Rich Ord

    “It’s entirely possible that these mobile apps are the “shiny objects” of the moment, and eventually users will find that they just have too many of them to keep track of on their phones, and rather than fill up their storage, will just access more of them through their web versions via the web browser. ”

    I couldn’t agree more with the above statement! Even with my iPad, apps that I used in the first few weeks now seem like just a passing fad never to be used again (by me). The browser seems sufficient and in fact is the most efficient way for me to use Internet tools.

    Great article!

    Rich Ord
    CEO, iEntry, Inc.
    Publisher of WebProNews

    • Chris Crum

      Thanks Rich. When I first got my Android phone I download a lot of apps that seemed cool, but I have rarely returned to. I ended up just filling up all of my phone’s space and had to delete a lot of apps. There are a few apps I use on a regular basis, but none of them could replace the browser.

  • http://www.sitebyjames.com/ James

    The web isn’t dead… I couldn’t read the whole article as I am most certain it’s designed in everyway possible to deconstruct all reason till it’s no longer worth a thing.

    There was an article on the website between Anderson and O’Reilly and that is in my opinion a little better to dissect as it gives a little more perspective rather than a well crafted article.

    I can’t figure out if it was intended to raise hell, to be a joke, or what… It doesn’t really matter…

    Link for link… the only real threat is the larger corporations eating up everything and leaving little to nothing for the small to medium sized business. Jmo…

    rel-nofollow – social networks – closed platforms – net neutrality – ect…

    Standards would be nice… some innovative change in business models, probably better… who knows…

    • http://www.sitebyjames.com/ James

      I should just add, I trust most of the larger companies to innovate and be industrious. They have to… if they don’t have small business, they aren’t in business to my knowledge. I am not an economics or business major… just thinking common sense.

    • Chris Crum

      I think the article is worth reading, and the authors do make some interesting points. I just don’t agree with all of them.

      • http://sitebyjames.com James

        I don’t agree with all of it either. Apps turnover is fairly high and while I haven’t actually developed any apps I am almost certain the API’s make it alot easier to create them. I think the sheer amount of apps makes finding the good stuff most likely difficult… and novelty is what sells alot right? I am just guessing…

        http://bit.ly/9S98Eb

        What happens when harddrives aren’t even necessary for most people to pursue their “personal” agendas? Harddrives no matter how much someone wants you to believe are Zero cost, still cost money. For the initial few bytes at least, right?

        Productivity, or what people believe is productivity and what they believe requires a harddrive is changing. Jmo…

        Then there are the innovation and standards which are coming about with the newer browsers and HTML 5, graphics acceleration, SVG, client side caches, ect…

  • http://blog.webpro.in Bharati Ahuja

    The very fact that the ‘article from Wired’ got so much attention shows that the web is very much alive and more connected like never before.

    Yes links are the key. Links are being shared across the social media platforms for reaching out to a web world which is not at all dead

    The search also is alive and will surely be alive as long as the web exists. The search engines may come and go (It will be the survival of the fittest) but the curiosity and urge to search for newer and fresher content by the netizens is surely going to remain as on going activity.

    The openness, freedom of expression and the freedom of choice the ecommerce has given to the customer is actually eradicating the drawbacks of offline traditional marketing and sales methods.

    Long Live The Web ! The web is not dead or dying but evolving and growing for the better.

    • Chris Crum

      “The very fact that the ‘article from Wired’ got so much attention shows that the web is very much alive and more connected like never before. ”

      A rough draft of this article said something very similar.

      • http://blog.webpro.in Bharati Ahuja

        Just posted an article today on how wonderful the world wide web is on http://blog.webpro.in/2010/08/online-marketing-ensures-more-openness.html

  • http://www.radical.co.in Dinesh Thakur

    Hummm, Have read lots of artilces like SEO is going to dead in few years, or you may be no loner in search results Bla Bla. Thers is no need to be worry, neither SEO nor web is going to dead. So be relaxed and chill. :-)

    • Chris Crum

      Not dead, but changing.

  • http://homeinternetmoney.com/blog Lively Jason

    Dead? No way! The Web can only get better and better though it will continue to evolve.

  • http://www.webadvantage.net Hollis Thomases

    The hub-bub over this argument made me think of an article written by Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff back in January of this year: “The Splinternet Means the End of the Web’s Golden Age.” http://forrester.typepad.com/groundswell/2010/01/the-splinternet-means-the-end-of-the-webs-golden-age.html I find his conclusions more the case than “the Web is dead.” Don’t we really mean how we access the Web is changing? If marketers keep up with these changes, they’ll be able to reach their consumers no matter where they are (albeit, more complicatedly).

    I don’t disagree with Chris that Search isn’t going away any time soon. Heck, I just got back from vacation and despite using my iPhone and countless helpful apps to find stuff and go places, I still had to rely on Search half the time because the app functionality is either too clunky or their own internal search engines suck in comparison to Google’s.

    Why does everyone always have to predict doom and gloom? Think instead of all the cool new opportunities all of this presents!

    • Chris Crum

      Yes, it’s rare that when something says something “is dead” that it actually is.

  • Richard Lawton

    There’s an awful lot of hype going on around mobile phones. One statistic that would be interesting is how many people who own an app-capable phone never actually use the apps? I’m one of them – I use the phone for calls & messaging and nothing else. Why would I want to squint at a tiny screen when I have a lovely big LCD monitor on my PC??? Phone apps are just another technology that has its place alongside the others – it’s not going to kill the Web.

    • Chris Crum

      I have to admit I use apps way more than I talk on the phone, and I appreciate the mobility of them, but agreed – they won’t kill the web.

  • http://hamchatforum.lefora.com Zeke Carr

    The fact is that things change over time. I can remember in the early days when I used google and other engines for the purpose of searching for information. Over time it seems that each of us acquire a personal agenda which precludes us looking for new information and activity. What does that mean? Simply put, most of us are only interested in the web as a personal vehicle which we use to perform our own unique tasks. Most of the time those quests are to further a personal agenda. Whether it is an on line business, narrow research for a project we are interested in, personal forums, narrow social networking, or trying to promote one of the above. I saw the slogan years ago that I still remember which is “where do you want to go today”. How often do we key up the computer for adventure rather than to use it as a personal tool to further our own personal agenda?

  • http://www.ghiis.com Pete Kever

    Wired ran an article – and I am dating myself here – back in 1997 that said almost the same thing. Front cover of Wired read: “PUSH – Kiss Your Browser Goodbye!”, predicting the end of web browsers. Anyone else remember when Pointcast and other “push” technologies were going to render the browser dead?

    I agree with everyone else here. Links ARE the web and until the need for people to gather information in a nonlinear format, the web isn’t dead – we are just finding more and better ways to access it.

    • Chris Crum

      They actually referenced that article in the new article.

  • http://www.learnsmallbusiness.com DeAnna Troupe, Small Business Training Lady

    I don’t think the web is dying. It is just changing. There will always be people who choose to use computers for surfing instead of cell phones. Now I agree that marketers need to figure out how to include mobile marketing in their bag of tricks, but to say that the web is dying is a bit of a stretch in my opinion.

  • http://www.priorityresults.com/blog/author/jlarranaga/ Jlarranaga

    I think you’re right, the headline was meant to be linkbait and it obviously worked. How many times have we heard:

    “Email is dead”
    “Search is dead”
    “Facebook has peaked” Actually that’s my comment but I won’t drive you to my blog post about it.

    I agree with several comments here that the Web and social media are evolving and expanding and their rumors of death are greatly exaggerated.

  • http://www.loveshade.org Loveshade

    This may date me, but I remember before email supposedly died, back to when computers would mean the end of paper. Back before everyone had a computer, school kids and college students bought packs of a few hundred sheets and that lasted them a long time. If you were a college student typing a paper and made an error or two, you didn’t retype the whole thing, you covered over your mistake and retyped the word. If you were making a group report, you shared.

    Now, if you’re a college student and find an error after printing, you may edit and casually reprint the entire work. If you’re making a group report, everyone has a full printout.

    When I no longer see hundreds of reams of paper for sale at Wal-Mart, I might think the Web could be dying too.

  • http://www.freearticlesmix.com Steve

    The web will never be dead just as long there are humans on earth, wired needed some extra hits maybe like trying go get people attention because people is to busy on facebook :)

    Long live the web!

  • http://medianowonline.com Yusuf

    It’s changing but never die. Google making things worst, but it will survive. We need more players like Google, Yahoo and Amazon.

  • nojovk

    do i think the people who say stupid statements like ‘web is dead’ should be dead businesses…… yes!!

  • http://ukrbiz.info Viktor

    I remember my first experience with AOL in 1994!
    There were not enough information available and it was difficult to find what was needed!
    Today there is too much information on the web and it is still hard to find what is needed!

    Conclusion: the web is overloaded, but defiantly not dead!

  • http://www.magikalhotels.com Edward

    As long as there are web pages we will have to search to find what we want.

  • http://hubpages.com/hub/What-is-KEI-and-How-to-use-it-for-SEO SEO

    Search engines will come to a point that even on a very specific niche, there will be so much information that it will look like “piled dirt” but they will filter this out and most websites will die due to lack of traffic. Search, on the other hand can not die since it is a very obvious human behavior.

    Eventhough they can just “give” us, people will still want to “search and compare”.

    Today’s favorite apps will die while new ones appear because this is how software engineering world works.

  • http://www.yourmealticket.co.uk/ Yourmealticket

    It’s all over then, is it? Aw, and I was just starting to have fun on the web as well. Seriously though, who actually believes any of this sensationalist nonsense? I particularly liked the phrase from the original article:

    “If a standard Web browser can act like an app, offering the sort of clean interface and seamless interactivity…”

    It was my understanding that a browser is an application (and that it does already offer a clean interface and seamless interactivity with the web), and so doesn’t actually need to act “like” one at all.

    After I read that, I couldn’t take seriously anything the original author had to say. But thanks for sharing it with us on WebProNews. I always enjoy a bit of pointless, groundless speculation, wrapped up in a few paragraphs of Chris’s common sense :)

  • http://www.unique-seo-services.com freelance seo

    Web is not going to die. Everybody uses mob apps for limited purpose and they all are still depending on internet tools. It is true that it is changing and growing but not dying.

  • http://www.clicksweeperblog.com Jennifer

    No apps. No browsing. No need for me to be constantly connected. I like being able to walk away from my computer and the internet, and I bet there’s a certain percentage of like minded people who will never rely on apps to the extent that the web dies. It’s clever linkbait, but substantial? I don’t think so.

  • http://africatopforum.com africatopforum

    As far as there is human, not bots, web will always alive and getting better everyday.

  • http://www.usaprintingtrade.com/ cheap printing

    But you have to be smart when it comes to choosing a printing company online. Don’t print from the first company you can find. Look for two or more printing companies and compare their prices and products. Also, read the testimonials and reviews – these will make you see which one can give you the best results at the best prices.

  • http://www.youravon.com/mdelp Melanie Delp

    There is no way the web is dead. If anything, it’s expanding and becoming a booming area for business, media resources, and networking.

  • http://www.mindbusy.com Mindbusy

    Web will not die and also google. Google is trying to give best results for users. also SEO will not die. SEO analyst need to be become a good content writer lol!!!.