The open web has rough edges, but this is why we need to protect it

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Rewind, July 2008: Native apps, the great leap backwards? – John Allsopp, Web Directions

This article looks again at the web versus native apps debate.

These are two fundamentally different approaches to the development of a platform: one autocratic and one more democratic…

One, the closed approach, looks to optimise around a local maximum, to continue to polish and refine the core of the platform, with diminishing returns.

The other, the open approach, focuses more on exploring a far broader landscape, allowing us to explore potentially fear higher peaks that lie disconnected from our current place on the map.

Many agree that native apps appear to offer a better experience — superficially, at least. But they are, by necessity, limited. Because that quality comes about because they operate in a tightly controlled environment.

It’s similar to the way I have started thinking about people’s drift away from maintaining their own websites. People have given control of their content to social media networks and big content silos like Medium.

Undoubtedly, a lot of this is because it is just so easy and convenient to publish on someone else’s property. The publishing interfaces are slick. You don’t need to worry about maintenance. It simply works.

There is no doubt that running your own website brings with it a lot of overhead. It’s hard work, and it doesn’t always work. I have rediscovered that when trying to start this blog up again, which still has lots of rough edges.

But the whole idea about the web — the reason it has been so successful — is that it is open and democratic.

Like all democracies, the open web is imperfect. It has rough edges. It is in constant need of maintenance and improvement. And it requires us all to work hard, carrying out our civic duties, to maintain it.

Medium can format your post nicely, and Facebook can upload your photos quickly. A dictator can make the trains run on time.

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