Apps, Mobile & SMS

Hey Chris Anderson, The Web Isn’t Dead

Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson made the claim last week that the web is dead. Since then, a number of leading experts have weighed in against his thesis and had some rather damning things to say. Most notably, Rob Beschizza at Boing Boing immediately found the graph that ran with the story to be suspect, because it didn’t take into account the increase in web traffic over the 10 years in question. Once Beschizza recasted the data to reflect actual traffic growth online; it becomes quite clear that growth occurred over every aspect of the internet, including the so-called dead web. Matt Ingram at Gigom sums things up nicely:

image from "The bottom line is that the Wired article simultaneously repeats an obvious point–that we’re using more and more apps instead of pointing a browser at a website–and misses an equally obvious point, which is that this evolution has nothing to do with the web being 'dead,' or even sickly. The web is healthier than ever. If nothing else, the dramatic growth of Facebook, which most people interact with through their web browser, should help to cement that idea. We may be using specific apps to access specific web-based services, and we may be making less use of all-in-one browsers like Firefox or Safari, but that has little or nothing to do with the web being dead."

The Messenger –

Alexis Madrigal at the Atlantic makes the point that it’s a little bit satirical how perfectly the future that Anderson predicts aligns with the magazine industry that he represents. Madrigal writes, “the great irony is that with this article, Anderson has done a masterful job of showing exactly how and why human beings try to shape the technological narrative of their worlds. We make arguments for personal and intellectual reasons based on our experience, desires, and ideological leanings.” Or as John Naughton at The Guardian puts it, “That's the message. Now, who is the messenger? Answer: Condé Nast, the publishing conglomerate that owns Wired — as well as the New Yorker, GQ and Vanity Fair.”

image from "The web has posed a serious threat to their business model (as it has to almost all print publishers) because they have thus far failed to find a way to get people to pay serious money for online content. The arrival of iPhone (and, later, iPad) apps was the first good news that magazine conglomerates had received in a decade. Why? Because, in contrast to the Wild West Web, apps are tightly controlled and consumers willingly pay for them. As a result, print publishers have fallen on the apps idea like ravening wolves. It enables them to exert tight control over the content, prevent sharing and earn revenue. It represents, in short, the glorious online future."

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  1. Chris Anderson already knows all of this, though. His headline was a calculated bid for attention, and the push-back is the most important part. That’s why he’s always making these grand statements in the first place: it forces us to respond, to offer commentary. “Hip Hop is Dead.” “Ground Zero Mosque.” It’s a trigger to get people to write long essays and blog posts that are ultimately all ad copy for Chris Anderson.

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