Dec 132011

Image courtesy of John Battelle's searchblog

John Battelle wrote an excellent piece today. George Colony of Forrester grabbed some headlines by explaining how the Web is dead, and being  replaced by a hybrid of applications linked by the Internet.

Battelle lays out how what most people mean by the Web is made up of principles, not protocols. How the online world has developed is more about underlying assumptions than it is technology. And if you understand these principles, you can better understand the passionate debates going on about policy decisions that affect cyberspace.

Battelle lays out five core principles of the Web, which are very different from how the applications world is developing:

  • Decentralized, no gatekeepers
  • Community development — open source, common protocols, royalty free
  • No date rules – still being made up as we go along
  • Neutrality – no URL is fundamentally different from another
  • Interoperability – think how universal search and email are, and then look at IM

If you view the Web this way, you can better understand many of the significant policy debates that affect the Web. Net Neutrality, cybersecurity,  online privacy, data throttling/network management,  the SOPA debate — all these touch a fundamental principle of the Web, and so become extremely contentious.

Note that many of these principles can create confusion as they also spur innovation. The growth of the Web has been messy, and some bad actors have prospered. But on the whole the Web has been empowering to the individual, and destabilizing to many established industries.

Technological change can’t kill the Web. Only turning away from its founding principles can make that happen.

  One Response to “Why the Web is More Concept Than Protocol”

  1. Hi Chris,

    I cannot get my system to unblock access to this piece for some reason…could you possibly email me a copy of the article by Battelle? Thanks Teresa

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