As a heavy user of both the Internet and the Web, it is surprising to think that until I read Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff’s article, The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet I considered the two words synonymous. As the article explains, the two words are extremely different on numerous levels. Today’s blog entry will examine the key differences between the Internet and the Web, the different uses for both and have each of this platforms will look in and affect the future. To fully understand the article and this blog, we must begin by defining the two terms which will be frequently used, the Internet and the Web.
As defined by Google, the Internet is “A global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.” At first thought, one may think the same definition would fit for the Web. When thinking of this definition, one must remember Web really stands for World Wide Web and as Princeton University explains, a “computer network consisting of a collection of internet sites that offer text and graphics and sound and animation resources through the hypertext transfer protocol.” After understanding these definitions, the difference between the two words becomes slightly more obvious. After all, the definition of the Web itself uses the word Internet right in it which should say something to readers. From this, and the idea presented by Anderson and Wolff that, “one [can] spen[d] the day on the Internet — but not on the Web”, we can conclude that the Internet can function without the Web, but the Web cannot without the Internet. The Internet and the Web can be compared to a battery and an iPod. The Internet represents the battery, which can exist on its own and has power to run other devices. The Web on the other hand, should be considered as the iPod, which runs on a battery (Internet) because without the power the battery offers, the iPod cannot function. This is the idea Anderson and Wolff were hoping to instill on readers when they commented on apps like Xbox Live, Netflix and Skype.
So now that we understand the difference between the Internet and the Web, we must ask ourselves what are the respective uses for both platforms? We will begin by examining that which is considered “dead” by Anderson and Wolff, the Web. Using the Web means physically sitting on your computer, using a browser such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. As Anderson and Wolff explain, HTML is the dominant programming language for the Web, which is not the case for the Internet. Some daily tasks that could be accomplished using the Web might include posting on a Wiki or researching information. Since the Web is considered open, the idea is to access numerous websites easily. Recently, a statistic has shown that users are no longer accessing a big number of sites and instead, “the top 10 Web sites accounted for… about 75 percent [of pageviews] in 2010.” It is statistics like this that allow the Internet to prosper. The biggest website ever is Facebook, with over 500 million people connected to the social network. The reason the Internet is slowly killing the Web is because more and more users are accessing sites like Facebook through their “bedside iPads” or mobile phones. Using Facebook is only one the apps a user of the Internet can take part in. As Anderson and Wolff mention: Xbox Live, Skype, Twitter and Pandora are only a handful of the available options a user can indulge in without every accessing the World Wide Web. There is no doubt that the Internet and the Web have changed drastically, but how will these platforms look in and affect our future?
As Anderson and Wolff predict, the Web will likely die in the future. The pair point to a hypothesis by Morgan Stanley that suggests, “the number of users accessing the Net from mobile devices will surpass the number who access it from PCs… within five years.” Assuming Stanley’s assertion is true, the Web will certainly die. With that said, ridding the world of the personal computer will be difficult due to game likes World of Warcraft and League of Legends. The two games, which require a personal computer to play, cannot be played on handheld devices. The two games alone have a combined total of about twelve million players. For the personal computer to be completely abolished, games like this will somehow have to be moved to handheld devices, which will be no easy task. Like when most outdated forms of technology die, lovers of the old technology will attempt to keep it running only forcing a slow and extremely painful death. The death of the Web seems inevitable with companies like Apple quarterly reporting mobile phone sales in the double digit millions. Although the Web may have made the Internet popular, the Internet shows no signs of slowing. With sites like Facebook or Twitter and applications like Xbox Live or Pandora fuelling the Internet through handheld devices the popularity of the Internet on handheld devices will only grow.
For the majority of users, losing the Web won’t be a terrible loss. A person like myself who has a general love for my personal computer and plays World of Warcraft and League of Legends will have serious problems parting with their computer. Unfortunately, it seems inevitable that one day this will occur. More and more people are accessing the Internet through “the screen that comes to them” which is slowly killing the Web and drastically changing the idea of computing as a whole. As for Stanley’s prediction of five years, I believe (and hope) it takes longer than this for the personal computer to be abolished, but only time will tell. In times of drastic change like this one can only ask questions. What has technology become? What will come next? And of course…
What Have We Turned Into?
– Ian McDougald
Anderson, Chris, and Michael Wolff. “The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet.”Wired.com. Conde Nast Digital, 17 Aug. 2010. Web. 30 Mar. 2012. <http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/08/ff_webrip/all/1>.