Last challenge is the future.
I said earlier that 2007 was the coming of age of the Web. However, I’ve come to feel that the Web community – and by implication, the Web as a brave, interactive medium – might be walking into a halting state. A freeze.
I’ve been talking about the Web as movement. I’m now talking about the Web as a movement, a movement of people, and that’s what I’m concerned about.
Let me take a step back.
The great success of Web 2.0 is that it’s made every form of creativity it touches more open and more participative, whatever the elite of that form says.
You want to read books? You can review them now, publicly. You want to write books? There’s help to keep you motivated. You can publish them too. Get yourself an ISBN too if you want. You like TV shows? You can make your own video show. It’s free to host it and talk to a community of fans. Even consumer electronics is getting the same treatment. People can hack on that, as non-specialists.
Everything the Web has touched it’s opened to more people, with a gradient of participation, by enabling communities to work together, and not respecting elites.
What I want to see is Web development itself go through the same process.
There are good steps in this direction. There are great tutorials and great, really simple Web development frameworks. Websites offer APIs. What Facebook are doing, and what OpenSocial is doing, these things are closer to entire application frameworks than just APIs. Wikis let people work on content together without knowing anything other than how to write.
Things are looking pretty good, right. Why am I saying there’s a challenge here?
With the exception of wikis, all of these developments are for specialists, more or less. What they’re not doing is helping people who care about something completely other to get involved in web development in a totally incidental way, in the same way that the people who post stuff on YouTube don’t necessarily regard themselves as video producers… they’re animators, or musicians, or just hanging out with friends.