In Wired Magazine’s latest issue they proclaim, “The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet.” I was prettyÂ intriguedÂ by this and decided to read the article (and subsequently subscribe to Wired. Well played, Wired). It’s divided into 2 parts, Blame Us (consumers) and Blame Them (corporations), and is very well written. I decided I’d have my students read it so we could discuss it in class; I wanted to get their perspective as college freshmen- people who have been using the Internet probably since 2003 or 2004 (age 11 or 12). I think it was around here that we really started to see the web change (MySpace was 2003, Facebook 2005), so it would be interesting since what we have today is the Internet as they know it. This will work Â the same as the last class discussion on Facebook Places. I’ll pose my questions, write the class consensus, and then my thoughts.
1) What is the distinction the article makes between “the web” and “the Internet”?
A lot of people (especially now) seem to think ‘web’ and ‘Internet’ are synonymous, but they are not. Most of my students nailed this: The web is an application of the Internet. While everything on the web is part of the Internet, everything on the Internet is not part of the web. Some also mention that where the web is a place you go for information, with the Internet the information can come to you, via apps like Facebook and Netflix.
My thoughts: I actually had a very interesting conversation with a student after class that really drove home the point of the article. She said she didn’t see how a distinction could be made because there are many apps on the web; websites have essentially become applications. When I first started using the Internet regularly I was on the web, going to static sites to get information. I’d have to refresh to see updates, and a personalized experience on websites like CNN was unheard of. That is no longer the case and I think you will see that in the next question.
2) How do you use “the Internet”?
Some of the most common answers I got here were: iTunes, Facebook, Google Maps, Â Twitter, Pandora, Netflix, and Xbox Live. Many also specifically mentioned their iPod Touch, iPhone, or other smart phone. Look at the results again- 5/7 started off as just websites that eventually got mobileÂ applications.
My thoughts: It’s those applications that are first blurring the line between web and Internet, then killing the web altogether. People today are using mobile apps on the go to get information faster. They are also using applications on the web (via a browser) to get a personalized experience that’s better than a static, general website.
3) Pick a side- who’s to blame & why?
Most of my students felt we are to blame for these reasons:
Some students did think they are to blame, and here’s why:
My thoughts: We are to blame. Maybe it took a push from companies for us to realize we wanted it or maybe we didn’t know it was possible, but we now use the worthwhile applications that are put in front of us. 500 Million people are on Facebook and it’s only 5 years old. Zuckerburg could not have foreseen this as a college kid who made a website in his dorm room. We would inevitably want more connectivity, and we would want ways to get our information faster. The fact that companies are capitalizing on it is just an effect to what is essentially our cause.
4) Was what they describe in the article an inevitable progression?
I got a resounding ‘Yes’ for this question. No matter who is to blame, this was bound to happen because people are always looking for better and corporations are always looking to provide better.
My thoughts: I think I was a little bit unclear for this question; I wanted to know if it was inevitable because it seemed like the next reasonable step in communication, to which I would say yes. If we look at communications over the years, it has done nothing but get better, faster, more interactive. From writing letters to morse code to voice comm (phone, radio) to visual comm (TV!) to static websites to now, each iteration of communication has give us more and has given it to us faster. No matter who is to blame, this was definitely the next thing to happen, looking strictly from an historical view.
The web at one point was the best means for us to access the information on the Internet, but that is no longer the case. Now we have phones, xboxes and playstations, and iPads to access that information, to access it wherever we are, and to access a personalized experience. No matter whose side you take, us or them, you definitely need to take Wired’s site: The web is dead. Long live the Internet.