Chris Anderson has finally posted the article I mentioned Gawker’s post about a few weeks ago: “The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet” (though it’s actually a pair of related articles—one by Anderson, the other by Michael Wolff).
It’s certainly interesting and worth reading, and perhaps my Chris Anderson vs. Prince article was a little unfair. The thesis is that consumers are moving away from the web and toward apps (such as those on the iPhone or iPad) because the apps can present specialized information in more convenient formats, while the media companies are moving in that direction for the greater degree of control they have over what consumers can do with apps.
But the pushback is just as interesting, including a debate piece running on Wired simultaneously with the article itself in which Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle debate the issue with Anderson.
Over on BoingBoing, Rob Beschizza recasts the somewhat misleading graph Anderson presents in a more meaningful light: while the percentage of overall traffic represented by the web is decreasing, the amount of actual traffic is still increasing—it’s just that other traffic has increased more.
And at Gawker, which originally broke the story about Anderson’s impending story, the headline is worth mentioning all by itself: “Wired Says ‘The Web is Dead’ — On Its Increasingly Profitable Website”. It points out a number of ironies in the article, such as that it was released on the web before the print or iPad editions, or that the website has been getting more profitable while the iPad edition’s circulation is reportedly dropping.
At The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal (who formerly worked at Wired.com) also makes some interesting points about Anderson’s article (and, indirectly, the other “Is X dead?” pieces we’ve seen recently), pointing out that the idea that new technology destroys the old has long been discarded in serious academic circles where it is recognized that old technologies often continue to exist and be used long after they’ve supposedly been “replaced” by something new. (E-book advocates and opponents, take note!)
(He also points out, as I did in my earlier piece, that Anderson’s article neatly coincides with his own interests—deprecating the Wired.com website, which he does not edit, in favor of the tablet apps, which he does.)
And Technologizer has a brilliant, hilarious piece looking at all the other technologies that have been declared “dead” in the last few years: Internet Explorer, the Macintosh, Linux, Microsoft Office, Microsoft itself, email, Facebook, Blackberry…
In the end, perhaps the greatest insight comes from the Gawker article above:
Like any provocative editor, in other words, Anderson has people talking. (See also this take from Rob Beschizza at BoingBoing and from blogging pioneer Dave Winer; TechMeme has more reaction.) Now we get to sit back and watch as the author/consultant/editor tries to explain why nearly the entire conversation about the Death of the Web is happening on the Seemingly Quite Alive Web. That should be, at the very least, entertaining.
Personally, I think the whole “X is dead” thing is itself dead—or if it isn’t, it sure ought to be. It’s a tired device used for shock value that usually ends up overshadowing the actual discussion the article is trying to start. I wish people would stop beating that particular dead horse. (“Is the horse dead?”)