The Times They Are A-Changin'
The time is one of those constants we're all aware of, but is hard to picture in a nice snapshot. Wired has gone to some effort to create a landscape that (while it looks rather like an avant-garde desktop artwork or a funky Worms level) shows how use of the traditional Web is dropping off as Web 2.0 models takes control.
At first glance the headline, based on Cisco estimates, could have proclaimed "FTP is dead", but that wouldn't attract so much attention. Instead, it highlights chunks of what was considered the Web moving off into their own distinct realms, accessed in something other than a browser.
Wired shows how the Web is dividing into distinct territories
Is the Web Cracking Up?
A lot of this movement is down to the rise of peer-to-peer apps and more recently the rocket ship of smartphone adoption that sees the need for what was Web content available in more easily digestible segments, which has, in turn, led to the massive rise of mindshare and love for the app with the associated rise in data that is accessed directly.
The article spends a lot of time looking at the divergence of content from the Web. From social media platforms (Facebook) to audio (Spotify) and video (Hulu, iPlayer) content. It also charts the transformation of the big players.
Certainly, the web is fragmenting; in the early days traditional brands and media waded in and new users stuck with those familiar names. Now, smarter, savvy Web users know where to find the best news and information or content. If there's a PC or mobile application that helps them access it, then they will happily jump ship and their browser usage will continue to shrink as they head directly to the apps that help shape their life.
Pros and Cons
Everyone seems to have an opinion on this topic, with many calling out Wired as they ran a similar story back in 1997. And it does have the echoes of the annual silly-season stories you hear like abandoning daylight savings time, electric cars (as if they'll ever take off) and skateboarding dogs. With a more regular rebuttal, boingboing has a great chart showing the near vertical rise in Web traffic over the time period.
The kicker is that this argument is raging between the weberati, those who know and use the Web on a minute-by-minute basis. The vast majority of users drop in and drop out of "internet-based content" in all its forms from time to time. They don't give a damn what it's called or where it comes from. To them they are simply googling, facebooking, using their iPhone or any of the other popular access point, all are just words and brands that are a means to an end.