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the web is not the browser

Yesterday Robert Scoble, reacting to comments by Dave, Jon, and others, was saying something really, really weird which involved comparing Microsoft with Dave.

Robert's comment was centered on the idea that "Dave Winer has done more to get me to move away from the Web than a huge international corporation that's supposedly focused on killing the Web."

Robert's thesis is summarized in the sentence that follows: "[...] what has gotten me to use the Web less and less lately [is] RSS 2.0."

He goes on to describe the wonderful advantages of Longhorn's components, for example: "And wait until Mozilla's and other developers start exploiting things like WinFS to give you new features that display Internet-based information in whole new ways."


On to the debunking. :)

There are two points here. Number one, let's take Robert's thesis at face value. It is a standard Microsoft tactic to say "see? The little guy is doing it, so why can't we?". How MS can't see the difference between "the little guys" and themselves is beyond me.

But that aside, there's a bigger (much bigger) problem.

Robert: the web is not the browser.

Robert says that he's "using the web less and less" because of RSS. He's completely, 100% wrong.

RSS is not anti-web, RSS is the web at its best.

The web is a complex system, an interconnection of open protocols that run on any operating system. Robert reads RSS on a Windows client (I assume), through a protocol originally developed in Geneva and now maintained in Cambridge, MA. He reads from a variety of servers, Linux, Windows, Apache, IIS, what have you. The RSS files he reads are generated by a multitude of software systems, all of them connected through the simplicity of a few lines of XML code.

Now, if that is not "the web", then I don't know what "the web" is.

Consider the alternative: what if Robert is right? What if in 2007 or whenever Longhorn leaves the realm of promiseware developers start switching in hordes to it? Take Robert's example: of "Mozilla's and other developers start exploiting things like WinFS to give you new features" and consider: what server will that run on? Linux? Not a chance. What if developers start using XAML? What client will that run on? Macintosh? A Symbian mobile phone? Of course not. You'll need a Windows device to see it.

Longhorn is anti-web because it locks down everything back into Microsoft's control. It has nothing to do with HTML. It pushes a system where you'd be forced to using Microsoft servers and Microsoft clients.

Let me say it again. The web is not the browser. The web is protocols and formats. Presentation is almost a side-effect. And that's what people like Dave and Jon are talking about.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on November 14 2003 at 12:18 PM

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