Feature

Business columns: The Web’s death a great exaggeration

Wired editor Chris Anderson made a splash recently with an article headlined, “The Web Is Dead,” said Alexis Madrigal in TheAtlantic.com.

Alexis MadrigalTheAtlantic.com

Wired editor Chris Anderson made a splash recently with an article headlined, “The Web Is Dead,” said Alexis Madrigal. In it, he argues that the way we use the Internet is changing, with mobile apps killing off the browser-based Web. These apps place everything from e-mail to music directly on your smart phone or iPad, eliminating the need to access them via a browser. But if apps are killing the browser-based Web, why is the Web “still experiencing substantial growth”?

That question exposes the flaw in Anderson’s argument. He assumes that as new technologies rise, they inevitably destroy their precursors. Not so. Most of the time, “newer and older technologies happily co-exist.” Right now, the electricity for your “latest gadget” is likely coming from a “power plant that’s decades old.” Sure, apps are an increasingly popular way to tap the Internet’s riches. And “maybe apps will end up being how a very particular kind of content ends up packaged.” But apps aren’t likely to “rise up and destroy” Web-based browsing. Technological progress is more complex, and less straightforward, than Anderson’s notion of “increasingly awesomer things that successively displace each other.”

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