The Strength of the Web: Hyperlinks and Information

By Daniel Scocco

As you might have heard, right now there’s a big debate regarding the future of the web. Some people argue that the web as we know it is dying, and that it’s going to be replaced by a closed web, experienced through individual apps like the mobile ones. Others argue that this won’t happen, and that the web will remain open and accessible mainly via the browser, be it on a mobile device or on a desktop computer.

Given the rampant growth of the mobile industry and of the closed app store eco-systems (mostly Apple’s and Google’s) it’s easy to see why so many people believe that the web as we know is going to die. But can apps really substitute all the web has to offer?

I started thinking about it, and I came to the conclusion that no, apps can’t substitute all the web has to offer. More specifically, there’s one key aspect of the web which I think is its greatest value and also the hardest aspect to substitute: its open architecture based on hyperlinks.

We take it for granted, but when you think about it you can see the immense power behind an open architecture based on links between the various elements inside it. It basically creates an eco-system that is:

  • dynamic (i.e., constantly changing)
  • self-adjusting (i.e., the good stuff eventually rise to the top, and vice-versa)
  • meritocratic (i.e., the better the stuff you create, the more benefits you’ll reap)

And this eco-system becomes a perfect platform to store and access information. For instance, imagine Wikipedia without hyperlinks. It wouldn’t be half as useful, right?

Sure, closed and independent apps are useful in many cases, and they probably are here to stay, but until someone comes up with a better structure to organize documents and information the web will remain pervasive.




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16 Responses to “The Strength of the Web: Hyperlinks and Information”

  • SWH Energy

    There is a lot of hype about the ‘potential’ of mobile platforms because the bigger companies just want more control and a mobile platforms offer it. But they overlook the basic fact that people do not consume long-form content over mobiles, how much ever they might want them to.

    The mobile app industry is at a stage where the initial ‘establish your blogging business’ industry was… Promises of making others rich (by offering app development at high prices) may work on the short run, but they stand to lose a lot on the longer run. Any business is expected to be sustainable and these lose their luster over time.

    All this mobile apps/mobile platforms is the next biggest thing will last until it becomes open. Which will happen eventually.

  • Danny

    Things are definitely moving towards mobile, as far as access and interaction.

    I get close to 60% of traffic from mobile apps…on some sites..

    Okay, as far as mobile apps(for quick and easy taks and info) taking over the web(replacing standard web form) I have to agree with SWH above, in that, there are currently too many limitations with mobile apps, for the time being…

  • Galina Vitkova

    In spite of developing new technologies including apps the structure of the web is given by hyperlinks embedded in hypertexts. This approach is universal, accessible and open to everybody.. I think it remains for a long time. A couple years ago my students (faculty of electrical engineering) attending the course of Technical English discussed the future of the web – see Web 2.0  . After the discussion I understood as a common user that the new features of the web don´t provide a new idea which enables such a simple, reliable and well arranged interconnection as hyperlinks.

  • Anshu

    Thanks for your article. Gave pretty good information on closed web. It made me go more research on google on this topic.

    Thanks.

  • Muhammad Akbar

    Actually some apps can substitute a several webs’ functionality, But moreover I really do agree with your statement that Wikipedia without hyperlinks is nothing. Thanks for sharing

  • Richard Ng

    Hi Daniel,

    I think I have to agree with you on this! There is no way that the WEB will be gone in anytime soon… no doubt the mobile and location based services are here to stay but it will just serve as compliment to the web…

    Having said that, I do see that apps (expecially those useful and productivity type) will continue to garner increasing volumn of users and thus competing with web users for the time spent on app vs web.

    Cheers!

  • Madhav Tripathi

    I strongly believe that the web will alive. Mobile users are growing but we need a desktop computer to do professional work.

  • Tarik

    Only time will tell. Back in the 90’s, I heard people laughing about the internet and saying it was a big waste of time. Look how far we have come.

    The best about the web is it’s accessible. Apps constantly need to be updated, modified, and compatible with cell phones.

    Anybody can make a simple webpage that’s viewable regardless of your web browser. Web will live but companies need mobile apps too.

  • Frank Steiner

    I believe closed store app eco-systems and current open architecture based on links will co-exists in the near future. It is true that mobile apps are expanding fast;however, their penetration is limited to some industries.

  • Raju Ahmmed

    I don’t think web will die for mobile user. Because Apps is complex thins and It’s complex to develop. It’s not offer everything which have web. It’s small device.

    I think It’s increase web user. Because now may people use web from there mobile browser. We always need web. Without web we can’t think any thing.

    Web is alive. Always will alive.

  • Joseph Anzai

    Daniel, this is a very interesting post. I want to believe that the web will exist as it has, but with the ever increasing use of apps as well as mobile devices, the web could change as we know it. When you think about it, it wasn’t that long ago that there was no public access to the internet at all, in-fact many of us went through our entire education never hearing the word internet, it didn’t even exist. I can imagine that many of the young people reading this are shaking there head saying “what is he talking about”. If you have been around long enough, you know that change happens in what seems like a blink of an eye.

    Thanks again, great article as always.

  • Andy Winchester

    Although the web apps from Google (Android) has largely grow , they will never change our future perspective of the Web.
    Thank you for the info

  • Slavko Desik

    I enjoy reading stuff like this. It’s funny how other bloggers never focus on things concerning the long haul. We should be the ones ahead of the curve, so logic dictates that we should know or at least talk about trends and try to predict things on our own.

    My contention is that the web is build utopia-like, and this concept worked not only from the beginning, but it takes traction over time.

    The more we use it in this manner, the better it gets at providing us what we want. It is ever growing in terms of UX

  • Ellie

    I don’t have a smart phone, so unfortunately I’m a little naive on the subject. However, I work for a publisher, and judging by the academic professors who submit work to us, I agree with SWH and Madhav above. P.S. Some of our authors still want us to print out copyedited pages.

  • Jack

    Well, the hyperlinks are very important to give more information by linking to each other sites or page. And also Mobile devices can be the next revolution for web networking but I think the internet is still alive but in the next era everyone will use mobile device for browsing the internet.

  • Firelink Media

    How could anyone think that the web is dying?? The web or internet is the single most proficient means of information sharing the world has ever seen. The openess of the internet is what makes it makes it so powerful, so why would anyone want to move away from this makes no sense? Sure I can understand the use of apps personalizing the way information is delivered to us but just like a tablet can’t replace a pc an app can’t replace web browsing as we know it.

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