Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why the web will stay complex

Facebook's on-going attempt to replace the web (cite link protocol replacement 'like' and welcome 'FourSquare-killer' Places) raises questions we have to consider.
Is it all bad if someone at the centre does all the building? Our Governments deliver our road systems - and no one fears for our liberty as a result.
Expanding on that analogy, (and in the case of both Places and Like this is obvious) perhaps Facebook is simply paving over - making up to a 'better' standard - routes which others established over time. Loads of us walked that way so we flattened a path through the long grass.  Facebook paves it over.
Trouble is when the road network becomes 'improved' to a certain standard it also becomes subject to governing rules and restrictions. And we have to argue with the powers-that-be about where the next road should be built or expanded.
Is the web, as some suggest, being 'killed' in favour of big, simple, easy-to-use, one-size-fits-all stuff like Facebook or iphone and ipad apps? Big tarmacced roads (god forbid; information superhighways).
I suspect not. And I suspect not because while space in the world of the atom is limited - as are the number of locations requiring connection via roads - there are no such limitations in the digital world. No limits on the number of groups that can form (provided more nodes keep on coming along).
Facebook is a standardization of getting from A to B. It makes life easier. Lots will indulge. We like easy. It's a one size that fits many.
But it's not as interesting as going your own way. Creating niche response to niche needs. And actually, as a species (like most others, cats excepted), we like interesting more than we like easy. Cite any number of experiments Dan Ariely references in his work.
I'm sleeping safe. Facebook doesn't get to be the web this year, next year or any other year.
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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?