Weekly Reading – Week 3

This week I was asked to read ‘World Wide Web: Whence, Whither, What Next’ by Henning Schulzrinne, ‘HTML5 Leads a Web Revolution’ by Gary Anthes and ‘Markup Systems and the Future of Scholarly Text Processing’ by James H Coombs, Allen H. Renear and Steven J. DeRose

Schulzrinnes article was an interesting one. He starts by crediting the creation of the web to Tim Berners-Lee and the growth of it to low cost entry point for users because most internet content is free. Its what he goes on to say which is much more interesting. He pretty much predicts the internet as it is now, with on-demand content driven services and the streaming of media from the likes of YouTube and Netflix and  interactive websites where other people can see what you are doing such as Facebook. Understanding that HTML is the one media type all web browsers understand he discusses how HTML is limited to constructing lists of information that is not very ‘interactive’. He acknowledges that at the time of writing (1996), “multimedia is very primitive” but

Modern day SMART TV with all its apps and features

does say that playing video or audio from the network actually avoids waiting for it to completely download. This is exactly how YouTube works, it plays the content by streaming it to you rather then making you download it all before watching it. Keeping on the subject of YouTube, he mentions that at the time there was no way of making active areas on video content, but we all know now of YouTubes annotation feature where you  can write directly on the video and also apply click-able links. He says that the web as it was, was a “solitary occupation” and users could not see other users interacting with the same content. This isn’t true so much anymore, the YouTube comment section is a great way of showing what other people thought of the same content (don’t read too many of the comments though…). Facebook updates almost in real time, you post something and split seconds later its on someone elses wall. You can share content with other people on Facebook and watch it spread with ‘likes’ and comments. Internet based games also allow people from all over the planet to interact with each other. This is much closer to people interacting with each other then it was in 1996. Before concluding his article he talks about internet services making there way to TV and set-top boxes. This type of web content has exploded in recent years with the introduction of SMART TVs. What he says next made me laugh because he says that internet TV services are unlikely to find widespread use and that TVs cant reproduce a 640 x 480 image. I can assure you my 51″ TV can display the internet just fine and I watch YouTube on there all the time. He concludes by asking the question “Can an advertising-only medium prosper?” and “Will there be way (and willingness) to pay for quality content?” I think the answer is yes, just look at Google whose main income is from advertising, and I pay a monthly subscription to Netflix so I can watch what I want, when I want. Needless to say it was an interesting article because he touches on some of the ideas that are really starting to grow now.

Anthes discusses HTML5 as an emerging web based technology. He quotes Ian Jacobs from the W3C who says that the web has evolved so much over the last 20 years that it has now become a platform for applications rather then storage of static documents. Jacobs believes there are two real driving forces behind the evloution of the web,  the first is the emergence of multiple web based devices and the second is how the web has become much more social with the introduction of social networks that can reach hundreds of millions of people. An interesting fact that I thought I might share with you is that today there is same amount of people on Facebook then there was on the whole planet in 1804. That’s was on QI so it can’t be wrong! He moves on to say how Adobe Flash was about to become the standard for video until in 2010 when Apple said they wouldn’t be using it for there iPhone or iPad and would instead be using HTML5 and some of there own technologies. He concludes the article by quoting Ian Hickson from Google who says that developers have dropped the term ‘HTML5’ and just call it HTML because its continually being developed.

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