Decline and Rise of the Web

Hossein Derakhshan has lamented on the demise of web in a recent article. It’s a fantastic write and thought provoking. He has forwarded his argument that hyperlinks are “this basic law of the Web”, and ended thusly,

“I’m heartbroken about the decline of the Web, one of the most promising products of human intelligence for our troubled time”

Throughout his piece of argument, though, Derakhshan has not inserted a single hyperlink in his article.


Something has changed.

The Web 1.0, was about linked documents and hyperlinks were the drivers and engine of it. You started with one document, jumped to another, and then returned to it. Web documents had a state and that state traversal was fuelled by the blue underlined words that connnected this beautiful network of knowledge. Worked well because more people were consuming than there were information producers.

Looks like when web 2.0 came upon, the meaning and connotation of hyperlinks took another meaning of their own, where it was layered on people rather than documents alone distributed over the web that took over. So, you had interconnected documents in turn interconnected by people. You and I would collaborate to write documents and share our thoughts. Blogs, wikis, collaborative documents became tour de force. Hyperlinks were still there. They were hidden beneath the veneer of human creativity. With social networking and the rise of apps, that innate “hyperlinking” nature of the web contines.

At the end of the day, it is still a ‘web’, there is still that interconnectivity and each one of us are linked to each other. If anything, “web” has transmogrified into our lives and has pervaded into the every aspect of our lives — foods we eat, movies we watch, the music we listen, and ideas we share. Without rise of the apps, that seemingly live in silos, I doubt we would be as deeply interconnected as we are.

I hope Mr Derakhshan is reassured that “web” continues to thrive, now more deeply than ever, hidden beneath the veneer of loss of hyperlinks, and intensely integrated with our lives.

There’s a magic in the air.

Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Also in:

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