I really don't want to use the web anymore. This should come as no great surprise to most of you, but I think it's worth pondering a bit, particularly because like all "breaking ups," it's a bit difficult. To recap, the reasons for the break up:

  • The software we use to browse the web is awkward and difficult to use efficiently. I'm talking here about things like Firefox, Safari, and Chrome. While "webkit" generation browsers are better than everything that's come before (even if their lack of comparability with the Firefox Platform makes them useable,) every browser I've interacted with is a huge program that just feels unwieldy.
  • There are two many distractions in the browser. I've managed to find ways to assimilate and interact with nearly all of the information that comes at me in the course of a day or a week in a sane, balanced, and efficient way. Except for the browser. Where I find myself refreshing Facebook or twitter endlessly. I don't even like facebook and the twitter website all that much.
  • The web is too sensitive to the availability of data connectivity. While I have an Internet connection nearly all of the time that I'm in front of a connection, I don't really like to rely on this to do my work. I don't want to use applications that rely on connectivity, and I hate situations where I have a few moments to do something, and I have a computer with me, and I get started and then I have to check a fact, or read a little bit about {{something}} on wikipedia, and I can't because I don't have a connection.
  • I don't like that the presentation layer of the web provides so much flexibility to make websites so unreadable and difficult to comprehend. Web browsers interfaces like emacs-w3m improve this somewhat, but even that is somewhat lacking. This isn't a problem with software, but rather it's a problem with designers, design, and the "way the web works."

So to end on a somewhat positive note. Here's what I think we really need in the next generation of digitally connected applications.

  • Some sort of very smart predictive caching software that would run locally. We have the hard-drive space in contemporary machines that we could dedicate--as much as 100 gigabytes to a cache of network data and never really feel a space crunch. In some cases even more. I think most people's digital music collections tend to top out in the 75-100 gig range, and "small" desktop hard drives have at least 500 gigs. Nothing else--well videos--takes up space. This would make the offline web a much more realistic proposition, it would speed things up and we could work on ways of only sending diffs between the cache and the servers, and it would rock.

  • Databases need to mostly move off of the server and onto local boxes. Extension of point above. Content doesn't change that much, local machines are now fast and smart enough to really be able to handle this. This is in HTML5, but having said that, I worry a bit. Because I'm me.

  • We can import a lot of the "intelligence" of computing onto clients. There's moves toward this already, with Adobe AIR and it's competitors, but this seems to be all about adding "bling" to the web experience, and use the cross-platform nature of web technologies, even the proprietary ones like Flash, to reinvent desktop application development. I think we can go even further with this. Lets think about the next generation of desktop RSS clients. Offline wiki/wikipedia software.

    I'm not trying to buck the "software in the 21st century is social and connected" trend that we're in the middle of, but rather seriously rethink the interface and work-flow paradigms of the web.

  • I hope that the next generation of web-document standards (of which I think sygn is an example) will focus on structure and organization and a much more limited set of "features" (less is more) that will let content creators make content more useful rather than better looking.

    Take design out of the content, and put all of the display logic (aside from headings and meta-data) on the client. Don't like how a site displays? Use a different client. And so forth.

Anyone with me?