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We have seen many new things in the last five to seven years on the web: Facebook, HTML5 appeared, new browsers grew strongly, Google failed with Wave.

Facebook, GTalk and Gmail are cross-platform and device. Similarly, I thought and hoped that forums, chat, mail, usenet, conversation rooms and p2p protocols could inter-operate to allow the user to transparently access all those services.

Of course I realized that things are far more complicated, for several reasons:

  • The IETF cannot invent new things. They just propose standards.
  • Microsoft and other big players are often obstacles to relevant innovation regarding open formats. The biggest hurdles are document formats and Internet Explorer, with its delayed reaction supporting web standards.
  • Smartphones, thanks to the appearances of OS's such as iOS and Android, are finally able to navigate the internet: Former devices were deaf, and weren't directly connected to the internet.
  • The mail protocols were left unchanged despite the growth of spam and malware.

I don't know what to think, because I think there is still a lot to do, but I feel like it will never happen. Or that nobody seems interested in the basic text transmit features...

So what do you think are the next big steps in the evolution of the web? Do you think it will still walk hand in hand with open source?

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I rather like Ben Elton's satirical take on it all:… –  jmo21 Feb 14 '11 at 15:59
I don't really think one has managed to program an efficient enough "big brother". But to say it simply, I'm thinking about a "facebook protocol". What will be done with it is entirely up to its users. –  jokoon Feb 14 '11 at 16:32

6 Answers 6

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The major problem as I see it is as you already pointed out by referencing IE, is getting everyone to play nicely together. This can be difficult when you start to bring several large players together (Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Apple, etc). Any attempt at standardisation needs to be taken on board by everyone in the end, otherwise it's hardly much of a standard.

Regarding SMTP, there's nothing particularly broken with SMTP, and there's a few extensions like SPF to help verify senders, but at the end of the day if you are sending from an account you legitimately have access to, how are you supposed to block spam at a protocol level?

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Well maybe the way recipients are handled is too naive. I'm not 100% sure but at first the email protocol was not programmed with a strong implementation of trust issues, it is just a real-world imitation of what a real mail would be: anybody can put something in your mailbox, it's just open. Now email providers can do zillions of verifications, but why not put white lists, add a check pass when you add someone's email to prove you know this person ? –  jokoon Jan 24 '11 at 9:41
@jokoon There's plenty of whitelist/blacklist addons for different SMTP/POP/IMAP servers, and then there's another whole raft of solutions on the client side too. But again, this doesn't belong in the protocol. SMTP as a protocol is not broken. If you don't like the features in your MTA/client, then find a new one. There's certainly plenty around. –  Matthew Scharley Jan 24 '11 at 20:11
I'm not saying it's broken, I'm just saying it's flawed by design. SMTP does an awesome job, but to me user identification is not required in the protocol itself, that's all I'm saying. –  jokoon Jan 25 '11 at 7:38

I hate to break it to you but innovation doesn't happen when everyone is forced to do the same thing.

Innovation comes through competition, when each party attempts to make it better.

Since Facebook and other stuff like Gtalk and Gmail, I thought and hoped that forums, chat, mail, usenet, conversation rooms and p2p protocols could inter operate to allow the user to use all those services transparently.

If by "interoperate* you mean expose their content via their API to any consumer, then this is not going to happen. The value of those services is perceived exactly through the value of their user-contributed content (go read a primer on Web 2.0) so why would they want to let that content be freely copied out?

Don't want to play the devil's advocate, but if you were running something like Facebook yourself, you would do the exactly same thing - keep it locked.

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Mh first I didn't mean big player to expose their API, because yes I know it makes no sense, secondly if they would (and I'm talking about communication-based website API), I wouldn't plainly call this "content". I see those websites as tools of communication (like a radio for example), not content deliverers. If I would run something like facebook, I would simply not: at some point I would make it decentralized, and for me there's a lot they could do better at facebook. –  jokoon Jan 24 '11 at 9:14

All the technologies go through a cycle of evolution and adoption, and at different rates. The higher the adoption, the more the evolution and so on.

XMLHTTPRequest - the basis for AJAX for e.g. - had been around long before it really got a lot of traction with Google using it in GMail and other apps. It became a buzzword if you will that even "lay" internet folks know and use. Today, it is expected every developer and IT manager knows of it. Job descriptions are littered with "Web 2.0, AJAX, etc" -- does that even mean anything anymore ...? Anyway ...

Contrast that with Wave (Boy, was I blown away by that demo!) Sadly, it fizzled away. Why? While there was a lot of excitement over it initially, no one was able to make it into anything the people could use. Maybe, it will come back at a later date. Maybe.

If you are at all interested and have access to Gartner's Portal, lookup Gartner's Hype Cycle. It is a non-scientific (a marketing ploy IMHO, but I digress) way for looking at adoption of various technologies into the mainstream, and Gartner has one for just about anything. So take it with a grain of salt, but it is an interesting idea, and the phases ring true.

Open source is definitely here to stay. Java, Apache, PHP, Python to name a few are mainstream open source technologies. So much so that companies now build on top of open source frameworks and charge for the services, e.g, Drupal, dotCMS, etc., and that is only going to grow.

Fundamentally, all these technologies are about two things: Content and how it is consumed (Platform) The "Platform" will eventually become irrelevant.

There was a time when the "written words" (Content) were prized for what they contained in various forms like books, parchment, cave walls, et al (Platform). Similarly, today, web sites/apps are prized for what they contain. Wouldn't Google like to tap into Facebook's "Like" button! The implications are mind-blowing.

You and I use and depend on technology to do almost everything in our lives. When the dust settles, it will be about how a particular technology improved the performing of existing tasks easier/better. If it succeeds, it will be adopted, and it will evolve, and the cycle will continue.

When Apple announced the iPod, Steve Jobs said that it was their way of making the world a better place. At first, I dismissed that as marketing talk. But over time, you will see that companies that understand that technology should conform to people (and not the other way) will be at the forefront for this adoption-evolution cycle.



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First of all no one knows where it is going, we can make guesses, and have but hey we will be wrong on some of them!

I am working on a book on HTML5 web applications, it will be out latter this year from O'Reilly.

There is some really cool stuff being brought into the web application space including, Canvas and SVG, Web workers, IndexDB, offline support, geolocation and other stuff.

I can say that 5 years from now we will be building all sorts of applications into web pages, even more than we are now. They will be able to do things like graphics manipulation and such that are strictly done in desktop apps now. I think it will be quite exciting!

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The next big thing is integration of the internet into our very lives by the means of ever present and easy to connect internet. This will be achieved through mostly smartphones replacing feature phones as the lower end option but also through new form factors that are now emerging such as tablets.
Though mobile internet had become the norm in many developed nations, the true revolution will begin when it does so on a global level. It is already underway though should take some time to mature.
Website as we know them will no longer exist. They will become just another source of accessing a particular service rather than the central hub. Apps on our latest smartphones today are already exhibiting the same behavior.
Most importantly the line between the connected "Web" and "Desktop" will blur. Already technologies like WebGL are hard at work on that field.

On a side note, I also believe that certain technologies that are currently the domain of the rich or those who really love to experiment, such as home automation and energy saving in a home environment will become cheaper and practical for the average household thanks to easier accessibility of the internet as backend.

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I would like to extend KM01's opinion by two thoughts.

Technology and society are interdependent, with current balance being more on the tech side, so it should balance back, but the change will not be permanent.

A practical concept that I personally believe in, could be coined as' maniacal personification'. Think two TV channels instead of a thousand, with shows that you wouldn't want to zap. Search engines showing up content that matches your personal behavior and psychological type. Products and services advertised based on your activities and preferences.

Apart from that, consider increased ethical battle on personal freedom vs convenience of computers controlling every aspect of life.

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