Monday, December 05, 2005

AoyW is the Personal Web

The web model has not yet penetrated an area that is arguably the most important in computing: personal and team authoring, the focus of the personal computer. We're all still banging in MS Word and hanging docs on file servers, or shoving them around in email. The web information model, with its interlinked, multi-format pages, and multi-user views, is missing in action. Why?

Because the focus to date, from ASP to AJAX, has been on pushing personal computing up to the web, rather than bringing the web down to the personal computers. And what's wrong with pushing up?

First, you don't get a fully responsive user experience from web services in the cloud, AJAX front-ends notwithstanding. Think about dragging a slider to set an effect level on a photo or video clip: with a web service, the effect is generated on the server, which sends a generated jpeg to the browser for every mouse move you make. Never mind how fast your broadband is, Internet latency chokes this UI. On a PC, mousing is caught immediately and routed to the effect code, which makes pixel-by-pixel revs to your display. Siting all the UI code near the data source is also a lot more sane than breaking it into client & server modules. (Wasn't the web supposed to spare us from client/server headache?)

Next, the religion of The Network Is The Computer has indoctrinated the congregation to ignore an obvious issue with connectivity: We depend on PCs only because electricity is ubiquitous and reliable. If the power is out, you've usually got acts of god in progress, and little divine inspiration for work. Only when net links reach powerline quality can we trust all computing to the heavenly cloud without real fear of downtime. I hear the choir cry, "How far off can that be? Wireless internet everywhere (via Wi-Fi & WiMax) is nigh!"

Has noone noticed that electricity is wired?! AC supply is so dependable precisely because it is not wireless! Really dependable wireless internet might take a while, like a decade or three. Wireless is hard.

There's a simple, cheap, effective way to pull your head out of the cloud and bring the web revolution home, without sacrificing always-on accessibility: Put it in your pocket! On a web 2.5 server swinging from your keychain. Hmm, that sounds like a USB flash drive... Bingo. Always-on is sexy. Always-on-you actually works.

Welcome home, web 2.0! I don't know how we got along without you.


At Wednesday, February 22, 2006 8:48:00 PM, Blogger Gregor J. Rothfuss said...

have you heard of fractional horsepower http servers?

At Thursday, February 23, 2006 4:48:00 PM, Blogger Liam said...

A couple of startups emerged in the late 90's to provide embeddable HTTP servers for various kinds of gear (the subject of the post you reference). One was acquired by Wind River, the other by Virata.

The difference between embedded HTTP and always-on-you web apps is that the latter case has to be extensible with new apps, just like your PC, and you have to be able to integrate the apps in arbitrary ways.

At Thursday, September 21, 2006 8:02:00 AM, Anonymous said...

Now is emerging a 'The PowerLine Is The Network' concept - see INTELLON and PowerOverEthernet dual ways to do that - which tends to break down your confidence that Net is not as ubiquitous as AC .
Beeter think hard about that :-)


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