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The web is alive and well - Quartz

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I got to see Bob Metcalfe eat his words. Live and the first time. And in a blender, no less. 

Was it edible ink on cake or did he eat a piece of paper?

Ironic that both essays are behind paywalls.

Rumors of the web’s death are being greatly exaggerated, again.

Wired famously put an obituary on its cover more than four years ago, and recently, a pair of technology columnists have revived the idea. Farhad Manjoo wrote in the New York Times earlier this month that the web is “in decline” (paywall). Christopher Mims, in the Wall Street Journal, just wrote that the web “is dying” (paywall).

Both columnists rely on data that show usage of smartphones in the United States is surging and that, when Americans are on their phones, they spend much more time in apps than web browsers.

Their first error is to conflate percentages and raw numbers. Yes, mobile apps are claiming an increasing share of time spent online, but the overall pie is growing, too. Time spent with digital media nearly doubled in the past five years, to an average of 5 hours and 46 minutes a day. Mobile apps have largely been additive to the online experience.

Granted, if web usage were flat amid the rise of mobile, it might be cause for concern. But the data don’t support that. Flurry, the mobile analytics firm, reports that Americans are spending only 14% of their time on mobile devices in web browsers like Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome. Comscore puts the figure at 12% of time on smartphones in the US. The assumption is that the rest of the time, when people are inside native apps, doesn’t count as using the web.


And that raises the biggest issue here, which is what we mean when we say “the web.” Historically, it has referred to, as Mims puts it, “that thin veneer of human-readable design on top of the machine babble that constitutes the internet”—or that which can be rendered and viewed in a web browser. While the web appears healthy based on that definition, it’s an increasingly unhelpful concept. If you scroll through your timeline on, that’s the web, but looking at the exact same content in Twitter’s mobile apps, as most people do now, is substantially different?

John Gruber earlier this year proposed a looser definition of the web that would include “anything transmitted using HTTP and HTTPS,” the standard protocol for websites. All of your tweets, no matter where you read them, are transmitted that way. Ditto for most of the content now increasingly consumed in mobile apps. Not everything is included under this definition: Email and SMS, for instance, rely on different protocols and shouldn’t be considered the web. New innovations like bitcoin and mesh networks, which also use different protocols, point to truly new forms of communication. But most of what’s happening on your phone, whatever it looks like, is still part of the web.

I agree. If it's on your phone, it's part of the web.

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