Facebook will fight to stop employers from requesting access to their potential employees’ otherwise private accounts, the company’s chief privacy officer Erin Egan announced in a statement on Friday. The announcement follows reports that potential employers have pushed for access to applicant…
The Pew Internet Project recently ran a survey debating the future of apps and the web, the sort of question that has been percolating since Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff ran a controversial article questioning the future of the web in Wired. From the survey:
The Pew Internet Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center invited experts and Internet stakeholders to predict where things might be by the end of the decade. They were asked to take sides in the apps vs. Web debate by choosing among alternative visions of where things will stand in 2020. A number of survey participants who are most attuned to the nuances of this particular issue responded that the outcome will be a mix; they said apps and the Web are converging in the cloud.
There seems to be a transition going on right now among big companies where APIs have taken precedence over web development. Twitter is the perfect example of this: Twitter.com runs off Twitter’s API. Is this the way forward for every company? No, but it’s a smart way to hedge your bets for the future.
A recurring complaint that comes up amongst the web doom-and-gloomers is something like this:
“I wish it weren’t true, but the history of enclosure, centralization, and consolidation makes me very pessimistic about the open Web winning over the closed apps,” observed Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award winner Seth Finkelstein. “There will always be a Web, but it may end up like the imagery of a person standing on a soapbox, referred to more for its romantic symbolism than mattering in reality.”
What’s somewhat funny about this is that it projects a vision of the “open web” that has not been true. Most people’s lives are dominated by a few companies on the web, tracked everywhere by a multitude of advertisers, and can only enjoy most web services by subjecting themselves to a barrage of advertising from said perverts.
From a purely competitive standpoint, apps seem like a step back — they make it harder for an upstart incumbent to compete by making development and support for all possible platforms more expensive. That may indeed be true, but at this early stage the app ecosystem has shown that it’s possible to make a buck on the internet without advertising and without being a huge company. That may change in the future as mobile platforms mature, but I’m hopeful that the network effects that seem to naturally play out over the web will be diminished in the future.
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