Wired’s End-of-the-Web Article

My, the stunts we’re doing to stay afloat these days.

I was at the bookstore this weekend, perusing the periodicals, when I was confronted by a fluorescent orange issue of Wired that pronounced, “The Web is Dead.” It’s a great exercise in stunt journalism that you could gain some lessons from. Big shocking headline co-opting a phrase in the cultural consciousness. Dueling opinion columns with great use of color. An in-your-face rainbow-of-fruit-flavors graph. And after reading through all that I got about as much substance as a mouthful of cotton candy. I can distill the message into three points.

Apps good.

Web advertising bad.

Walled garden internet is returning.

It was a little bleak, but they even admit that they predicted the same thing in 1997 with “Push” technology.

Remember Push?

Am I the only one who remembers it?

I also felt the graph was disingenuous. Even though I’m sure it would fall under Fair Use to post it here, I’ll play it safe and direct you to the article again. It shows the “Proportion of Total U.S. Internet Traffic.”

Does that mean in actual eyeballs or in data passed along?

Since it’s from Cisco, I’m going to assume that it’s data. It looks dire for email and the web. Yet get out some peanuts for the big elephant in the room. They’re being crowded out by video. I don’t know about you, but my email and web viewing habits don’t use nearly as many megabytes as video.

So I’m going to channel my inner Dvorak and say this is crap. All it shows is that video sites, like YouTube, have become popular, and peer-to-peer pirating traffic is dying from a combination of big media lawsuits and increased availability of legit media sources like Hulu and iTunes.

People are still reading web sites. They’re still using computers. Tablets like the iPad are going to be elitist items for a few years still. Even smartphones haven’t penetrated the market enough to pull people away from their PCs. They may one day, and I do agree that lean-back media consumption (tablets) is more relaxing than lean-forward media consumption (PCs).

What does this mean for citizen journalists?

Use more video. And citizen journalism outfits had better roll out some apps.

Wired declares that the freedom of the web is attractive intellectually but that human nature prefers reliability overall (don’t you love it when tech geeks pontificate on human nature). Yet there is still that basic desire in humans to break out and feel freedom again. Facebook may be taking over as the new AOL walled garden. I think people forget that AOL fulfilled those social and easy media consumption tasks that Facebook and iTunes do today. I was very addicted to it in the mid-1990s.

After a while the sandbox gets tiring and you look for other adventures on the playground.

For an alternative viewpoint on the state of web advertising, check out this New York Times article.

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09 2010

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