The death of the browser

At the LeWeb conference in Paris today, the Mozilla Foundation is discussing how to make the web experience more “personal”.

I think the heart of this discussion is the unmistakable trend, initiated by Apple, but happily followed by Google and Nokia, to constrain web content into the tightly controlled channels represented by Apps.

I sometimes marvel at how Technology can reinvent the same shit a thousand times, and EACH TIME claim it’s some spanking new, revolutionary this-or-that.

Let’s explain the Apps phenomenon in a compact form: apps are successful because they optimize the client device resources (e.g. screen real estate, touch nterface, keyboard, resolution, bandwidth just t make a few examples), which precisely the same reason why client-server computng was successful in the 80’s. The idea that somewhere there is a infinite pot of resources from which we can all draw freely is ludicrous; by shifting some of the workload to the peripheral device, instead, the system becomes zippier in a sustainable way.

Moreover, the browser is, well, just that, a browser. It reads a page. Of course, you can make this page look like it’s not a page at all, but when you need to book a train, this is a bloody transaction involving making choices, querying a database and using two-way commit to make sure Joe does not book the same seat as Jill. Sure, you can (sort of) do that in a form – I have seen people widening the first column of a spreadsheet and using it to write text, but that does not make it less of a braindead endeavor.

The statement that this “makes the Internet less open” is truly one of the stupidest I ever heard: why do I need to look at Facebook through the inefficient web interface when all I care about are my friends’ status updates?

Why do I need to type this on the mobile web interface of my iPad, when I could easily use a client to write my post locally (no dependence on connection) and only when I’m done upload it to my blog?

Wait, this I know. I have to do it this way because the WordPress client is so bloody awful, that’s why!


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