The web is for the people, and I believe the web is the most important medium we have. Recently, there has been some discussion about the web vs. other platforms, so I’d like to present my thoughts.
What caught my attention was two blog posts: The web is a different problem by John Allsopp and Web Technologies Need an Owner by Joe Hewitt. The discussion is about the web as a platform, what kind of progress people believe it makes or not, and how things should be done. It was also followed by a lengthy discussion on Twitter between several parties, comparing technical features as well as the mindset surrounding it.
I thought I’d address some of Joe’s thoughts here, which come down to that he believes there should be an explicit owner of web technologies and it would be a good thing if we only had one rendering engine out there. He also claims that people speaking for the web are more about ideology than relevance, and the web will never be the dominant platform.
First of all, the web is one of the most important things mankind has. To have a medium available for everyone, in such a democratic fashion, is beyond belief when it comes to the world being as open as possible. The low barrier to both take part of it, share on it and code for it is nothing but amazing! So, I’d say that ideology is indeed very important.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be relevant, though. A number of closed platforms have created great things, but I would say the evolution the last couple of years with HTML5 and CSS3 features and how web browsers are improving everyday is fantastic, and it continues to do so in a rapid way. And while improving, it is also about giving users choice: not to tell them what to use or how to access it, but instead offering end users to choose their own tools, and to combine them any way they see fit.
One rendering engine? Yeah, that worked out great last time around… We need competition, we deserve options. Microsoft, Google, Apple, Opera and Mozilla are all vital to the ecosystem of the web; to push each other to become better and to foster innovation that everyone gains from. I work for Mozilla, but I would definitely not want to see Firefox (or Gecko’s rendering engine) as the only one out there. We need a balance to together form and grow the future of everyone.
To me, when it comes to just one owner, one rendering engine compared to the diversity we now have, it’s usually just that it can in cases make it harder for developers – but that’s what standards are there for. And if everyone comes up with something new and it’s good, the other players will adopt it, and if not, it will become obsolete. This also helps to ensure what is out there for everyone is something we all gain from, and that company-specific interests have been weeded out in the process.
I’d argue that the web is indeed already the dominant platform, and that it has to stay that way.
The web is the true form of democracy: people from any part of the world – with any background, gender, social status or skin color – can take part in and build the future. Some things can take longer to reach consensus about than in a closed company-controlled environment, but I would have open and democratic standards every day over that.
Let us continue to build the web together!
I choose the people. Who do you choose?