The Tragedy/Farce of the Open Web according to journalists

The history of the web according to journalists and punditry.

  1. Look at what those crazy kids are doing. So amateurish. Maybe when they grow up they’ll become print journalists like us. (1990s)
  2. The Web is Dead! Push has won. (Wired, 1997)
  3. Look at what those crazy bloggers are doing. So amateurish. Maybe when they grow up they’ll become print journalists like us. (2000s)
  4. Readers are greedy and won’t pay for print, so let’s do ‘web’. Move over bloggers, the grown-ups are here.
  5. Google is stealing our ‘web’ thingamabobs. They are evil and won’t pay us for their callous act of giving us traffic. We must sue/lobby/protest.
  6. The Web is Dead! Apps have won. (Wired, 2010)
  7. Let’s make really expensive apps for just one (maybe two) platforms and let our desktop websites bloat into unmanageable behemoths that don’t work unless you are using a laptop directly plugged into our server over gigabit ethernet. Even then it hiccups.
  8. The web is dead! Everybody is using Facebook to read updates on mobile and it’s physically impossible for a human being to make a website that performs on mobile without their head exploding/puppies getting shot/etc.
  9. The Web is Dead! Everybody* is using Medium. * ‘Everybody’ here being mostly Silicon Valley types and journalists. Medium’s audience is built entirely out of Twitter’s decaying social graph of vacuous punditry and alt-right trolls. It has no social graph of its own and has a user base that’s a teeny tiny fraction of Facebook’s. Medium is less likely to kill anything than a hedgehog is to learn Tae Kwon Do. It’s hyperbole on the scale of getting punched by the town drunk at your local pub and calling it an epic riot. ‘It was just like the Poll Tax Riots. I should know, I covered it for the [insert pretentious rag nobody reads].’
  10. Google launches AMP to make it easier for incompetent media co web developers to make mobile-friendly sites and matches that ease with a set of incentives that will help developers get managerial approval.
  11. The Web is Dead! AMP is a new silo! It’s just as bad as Facebook/Twitter/Youtube/insert-completely-closed-off-native-app-silo-here.
  12. Podcasts are big, but they will be dying soon because they are the open web and iTunes is a gatekeeper, sort of. I mean, there are a bunch of really popular alternatives that are free to use like Overcast and millions upon millions of people listen to podcasts every day. It’s survived for twenty years because of it’s aggressively decentralised structure, but that doesn’t count because of [manic hand wave]. It’s really really going to die really soon because it’s the open web and the open web is always dying. /journalist breeeeathes
  13. The Web is Dead! It isn’t worth the effort to launch anything interesting on the open web because nobody goes there, because there isn’t anything of interest launched there.

Journalists don’t recognise how huge the open web still is both in terms of readers and providers because they assume that disinterest in their work equals disinterest in the entire medium. It’s like watching a second-rate novelist sit in a spit-and-sawdust pub, griping about how the novel is dead.

We have artists and writers making a living where they could not have before due to the open web, whose work we are enjoying entirely thanks to the open web. Patreon, Kickstarter, IndieGogo, and Stripe are the open web and wouldn’t exist without it. Minorities finally have the ability to create media that reaches the world because of the open web and they use it. There are thousands of small- to medium-sized software companies who sell web services to specialised industries. There are countless hobbies out there where the core online social hubs are still some random forum and not Facebook. And let’s not get into the web services that cater to these hobbies and have to use the open web because neither Amazon nor Facebook care enough to do a good job of serving niche needs.

But none of them count because trendy fucking journalists don’t notice things like pen turning or woodworking and don’t care about the scheduling needs of hair and beauty salons.

The modern journalist is not an expert on the web. They and their colleagues have spent a large part of the last twenty-five years dismissing the open web at every stage. They are not the people you can trust to either accurately assess the web or to make usable websites. You can’t even trust them to make sensible decisions about web strategy. Just look at their damn websites!

At every turn, right from the beginning, they’ve made horrible websites, laden with ads, demonstrated no understanding of the medium, and then blamed the medium itself for their inadequacies. As an industry they have always done and said the wrong thing about the open web.

Stop listening to them. They aren’t here to help.