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Readership Question: The Next Emerging Thing on the Web

Nick Finck

November 10, 2004 at 11:19 PM

For this week's readership question I am going to ask each of you to pull out and dust off your crystal ball for a moment. I always have believed that we here at Digital Web Magazine cover the topic of innovation and advancement within the Web industry as much as possible without becoming astrologists. However it's always good to take a moment and question that forward looking approach to see just how far forward we are looking. So this week's readership question is: To you, what do you think is the next big thing for the Web? It could be something that is new and emerging or something that is already existing but just starting to come to full bloom. It could be a technology, a process, or perhaps even and ideology. Please share your thoughts in the comments of this post. Special thanks to reader, Tim Wouters, for suggesting this topic.


Andrey Stefanenko

November 10, 2004 at 11:54 PM

The process. I think, the next big thing is the social development initiative through the different community. Lot of thanx for You amazing web site.

Small Paul

November 11, 2004 at 1:20 AM

Some sort of proper rich markup language. (X)HTML is an old, somewhat crusty document markup language ill-suited to websites and web applications. Microsoft's XAML and/or the WHAT Working Group's stuff, and the battle between them, will probably be where its at.

Richard Rutter

November 11, 2004 at 3:27 AM

At some point in the not too distant future, the self-tagging community sites (ethnoclassification if you will) such as Flickr and will start to come together (and into the mainstream). The killer will be when they combine with location-based services and mapping sites such as UpMyStreet, Plazes and Multimap. We will be able to show photos and websites based on a location, attach tags to locations, based on community-developed meta-thesauri and so on...

Kae Verens

November 11, 2004 at 3:32 AM

xmlhttprequest. I've been looking into this for the last few days, and the more I look, the more I find. There is a huge hype building around it. A9 uses it, gmail uses it. It's very cool.

Jonathan Snook

November 11, 2004 at 3:41 AM

CSS2.1! Ha, I kid. Let me rephrase that: Full CSS2.1 support in IE! It would change the web as we know it! :)

Kae Verens

November 11, 2004 at 3:53 AM

jonathon - see here for a solution to your IE CSS2 woes

Simon Guillem-Lessard

November 11, 2004 at 5:36 AM

I'd say video in flash animations. They are getting more and more popular with fast connexion and today's hardwares, softwares and mini DV digital cams.


November 11, 2004 at 8:12 AM

Web Applications. Particularly web applications with a self-building community, which are designed 'in the open' while attending closely to the needs of users and eliciting suggestions from the user base. So, in a word - flickr. Most exciting thing I've seen on the web lately. Oh, and blogs, of course...


November 11, 2004 at 8:32 AM

Podcasting? Videoblogs?

Joshua Porter

November 11, 2004 at 10:28 AM

The big thing is the transfer of ideas. We're seeing users show behavior that makes it clear they don't care where content is, what styling it has, or who wrote it. They want ideas, ideas, ideas. Web services will enable this in a huge way, but I don't see a B2C model as the big thing. I see Bx2C model as the big thing. We'll be writing tools that take content from multiple domains (Bx) and make something non-proprietary, useful, and for us (C). Clay Shirky wrote about a similar topic some time ago in his The Semantic Web, Syllogism, and Worldview piece. I agree with his analysis, but I don't agree with his conclusions. People don't need end-game logic, they simply need to agree on a standard to move forward. We'll agree on markup languages that suit a specific task, and then we'll build the ones that help us most. An interesting case in point: Attention.xml

Jonathan Snook

November 11, 2004 at 11:08 AM

Kae: definitely aware of IE7. But I'd like it to be built in, fast and without javascript! Anyways, to contribute further to the conversation, we're definitely going to see a huge push towards web application interface frameworks and I think we're already starting to see the start of the "framework wars" with technologies like XUL, XAML, and Flex hitting the market.

Richard MacManus

November 11, 2004 at 1:45 PM

Design for Data. Similar to what Joshua suggested. The death of the homepage (the death of "web design"? oh, boo hiss!!!). It'll be all about the CONTENT...

patrick h. lauke

November 11, 2004 at 1:47 PM

the next big thing? an end to all discussions on the reasons why developers should embrace xhtml, css, accessibility, usability. in a hopefully not too distant future, these will simply become baseline, accepted best practices, and the focus will once again be the actual *content*. i particularly feel that too much time is now spent on "oh look, they switched to tableless css", at the detriment of actually looking at how valuable the sites really are. technology for technology's sake...

steven streight aka Vaspers The Grate

November 11, 2004 at 2:59 PM

Collaborative wiki web sites, where users not only interact with, but help create the site. Conventional web sites are dying, due to bad usability, excessive Flash and Active X, broken forms, lack of true and easy interactivity, the corporate command and control psychology that defies the very essence of the net and web. Users are flocing to Flickr, blogs, forums, seeking to share and debate information. Back to the original ideas, back to the future, is where we seem to be headed. And that's good news.

Jep Castelein

November 11, 2004 at 3:24 PM

I agree with Small Paul, Kae and Jonathan: web apps are hot. But will they be XUL, XAML, Flex, or just HTML? Agreed, I'm biased: my company makes a toolkit for HTML-based Rich Internet Applications that work without plug-ins (just HTML, CSS and JavaScript). But even without my bias: think of GMail, Oddpost, A9, and also Have a look at WHAT WG (already mentioned by Paul). And 1 million Firefox downloads within 1 day. It's all about improving the web experience! I guess the next emerging technology on the web is ... the web browser (?). Or more accurate: we are finally starting to utilize the full power of the web browser to create standards-based web applications. That's what I see as the most important emerging technology.


November 11, 2004 at 3:42 PM

People dislike Flash for how it's currently used by most web sites, but Macromedia seems committed to bringing the Flash player up to a reliable level of accessibility. If this is the case, and the next series of players gain widespread usage, we could see a shift to more all-Flash sites that do a better job of reliably delivering all types of content (text, video, and image) regardless of browser than XHTML/CSS/Javascript.


November 11, 2004 at 6:19 PM


Michael Almond

November 12, 2004 at 12:53 AM

This is by far my favorite readership question and in my opinion, the most important. Why? Couple of reasons. 1. The question is inspiring and inspirational. .What I mean to say is that it is inspirational in and of itself as well as asks about our inspirations; to inspire us to use our imagination and dreams about what is to become, as well as look back at what was. 3. It is about a bigger picture-whatever that may be. By asking "what's ahead" I can not limit my thoughts to just a certain type of technology or issue that we face day to day in our work. I think about the significance, meaning, and purpose of the Web. How will it change the way we live, work, think? Will history show us that it this was a profound catalyst for major cultural and social changes? Will is be a part of a era that is similar to the renaissance. I even have to wonder about human evolution. Is this like the development of language, that is going from grunts and vocal sounds to articulated and specific words. Why haven't I answered your question yet? You already answered it; I was busy with my thoughts, ideas-I was inspired. This is what is next for the Web.. I think we are seeing this more and more both is the use of the Web and thus what people associate it with, as well deep and meaning discussions and ideas about a bigger picture, and not just from member in our profession. A true interdisciplinary approach looking at technology, the internet and of course the Web from social scientists, philosophers, even the Universal Unitarians chime in. The Web was born of a dream about people; to promote human collaboration and creativity, to be a social change for the better. Tim Berners Lee said it himself and I think the dream is just starting to come true. And I need to shorten my comments! Thank you for this gift, Michael

Luke Shingles

November 12, 2004 at 12:08 PM

It will be great when IE dies and we have diversity and competition in web browsers because new web standards will be able to quickly move from specification to implementation to real world usage. I can't wait to use XHTML2 with CSS3.

Chris Bose

November 12, 2004 at 11:26 PM

The next big thing: Fluid marketing; a combination of affiliate marketing and wiki type sites where users can start and stop affliate tie-ins as fast as setting up or stopping a Google Adword campaign.

Kae Verens

November 13, 2004 at 1:58 PM

Luke - one thing I don't think will become popular soon is XHTML2 - the W3C, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to throw backwards-compatibility out the window with that one. As for CSS3 - cool stuff! I'm looking forward to seeing translucency (works already in Firefox), and easy curved borders (also already in Firefox), and drop-shadows and all the other cool stuff. I think, as well, that more of CSS2's selectors will make an appearance. The "href^=" trick is rearing its beautiful head in a lot of sites, and I'm sure a lot of people will notice the incredible efficiency possible with some of the more advanced CSS selectors (here's an example of some CSS-based positioning - see the source!).


November 13, 2004 at 6:37 PM

The ability to play on the web with Math related stuff like on the paper. MathML enhanced with js


November 13, 2004 at 10:04 PM

The future is flash sites ...

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