Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What does the web mean to me?

The web to me is not the browser. It's not REST, it's not JavaScript. It's not Facebook, nor is it Twitter. The web, to me, is the fact that I'm writing this blog post offline and on my mobile phone while on the subway home*.

Two concepts embody the web to me: seamless computing and graceful handling of occasionally connected scenarios.

Seamless computing (sometimes called "the cloud" in nontechnical contexts), is the notion that my profile and my data are accessible and understood no matter what device I'm on. My email appears on my computer and phone. My music appears on my home theater and my portable music player. My eBooks appear on my eInk device and my phone. Hell, my thermostat is even on my wall and my phone!

Dealing with occasionally connected scenarios is a bit trickier, but oh, so, necessary. A contrived example is that I don't need to be online to read my eBooks. A slightly more thoughtful example is how I'm authoring this post offline. An often overlooked scenario is: Do I need to be online to search? 

With many of today's "instant search", the answer is "yes" and there is no graceful fallback for offline scenarios. What would a graceful fallback for search when offline look like?
  • Capture and save my search criteria
  • Wait until there is a connection to execute the search
  • Notify me asynchronously that you have results for me

Is that a useful use case? It's better than nothing. Maybe I'm out and about in a land of roaming charges and I see something I'm interested in that I want to research later.

I hereby redefine the term "world wide web" to mean any set of loosely coupled applications that enable seamless computing and rich occasionally connected experiences. The browser is just another application in that ecosystem.

* Yep, all text was written on my Galaxy Nexus during my 1h commute home. In true tradition of seamless computing, formatting and linking was performed on my laptop via the blogger web interface while connected. The right tools for the right job at the right time all working together. This is my web.

No comments:

Post a Comment