The way we use the internet is changing. The difficulty of making a “modern website” grows greater and greater with each passing year. The complexity is unsustainable.
Lost but not forgotten
In the future, I think we will still have HTTP servers but the way we use and access the internet will be fundamentally different. With our brain implants we won’t need to really remember the location aka “URL” of a website but we just need to remember what we were thinking about when using the website. This is easy because if we forget what the website made us think about or reminded us of then we won’t remember to go back to it.
The appearance of internet content will become more fluid. This is kind of true already today. We have the oft under-used “Reader view” and CSS user-styles, but in the future AI will bust this problem domain wide open. Computers can translate and convert content very well. Just a few years ago Google Translate was a novelty but now it has been incorporated into the everyday (at least for me).
In the future we will be able to easily convert text news articles and stories into video at the click of a button. It can be in any style that you like: spongebob-esque, 7’oclock news, every character is played by Ryan Gosling. Ultamitely it will be any media to any media: “interpreted cave paintings to audiobook voiced by David Cameron—wait a minute who is this voice that we’re hearing?? oh we mean David Attenborough, click, ahh now that is better”.
The Internet is dying
GeoCities died—and that marked the begining of the end for one form of internet publishing and consumption. It was a long death—a death about 10 years long. Websites in general have been dying a slow death and we are nearly at the end. Webapps and publishing platforms like Blogspot, and Wordpress have replaced websites. But Blogs are dying too—replaced by Twitter, Medium, Substack, Facebook Groups, Weibo… but all these things are dying too. What will replace the internet?
I think we will always have a network of machines but how those machines will communicate with each other will change over the centuries. We will have the basic protocols of the internet like GET/POST/PUT for another couple hundred years at least and then we will have a new, better format which will be more in-line with how we consume digital content in the future.
During the internet of 2006, consumer products let anyone edit CSS. It was a beautiful mess. As the internet grew up, consumer products stopped trusting their users, and the internet lost its soul.
By mistake, MySpace inspired a generation of teenagers to learn how to code.
MySpace showed the world that if you make powerful and complicated tools (like coding) accessible to anyone, people are smart enough to figure out how to use them.
Coding became a privilege, instead of a right.
We — the programmers, designers, product people — collectively decided that users don't deserve the right to code in everyday products. Users are too stupid. They'd break stuff. Coding is too complicated for ordinary people. Besides, we can just do the coding...so why does it matter?
The internet added <canvas />, but the internet stopped being one.
The only real option in 2019 of customizing anything is to build a website of your own. But the barrier to entry can feel impossibly high, or pointless, when you can make an Instagram profile in just a few seconds.