Web Browsers and Web Weavers
The very nature of the Web Browser is changing at breakneck speed. Because of html5 and cloud synchronization services, Web Browsers are beginning the trek from thin client to thick client. In order to compete with the user experience of mobile os platforms, apps are quickly becoming first class citizens of the web. Soon, apps will be an inextricable part of the Web Browser experience.
Some really cool stuff is about to happen. Unfortunately, the open web is in peril (again.. just like princess peach). If the web is becoming a web of apps rather than documents, then the open web must be about links between open data sets. Instead, we have data silos.
Web Browser data in the cloud is silo’d (think Firefox Sync, Google Chrome sync, iCloud, etc). Uers app dashboard data will also be stuck behind these high walls. The social graph is still stuck in 2007, and we haven’t even gotten around to graphing anything else on the planet.. let alone in a decentralized manner.
Identity is also (finally!) moving into the browser, but not as a first class citizen like Apps will be. This is a tragedy because the Web Browser is supposed to be the User Agent to the web.. not the app agent to the user.
I’d like to start a dialogue on how we can take the best of what is happening in computing right now and converge upon a new product class that rethinks the User Agent.
I’d like to call it the Web Weaver. Lets see if it sticks.
So, what is a Web Weaver? It’s the persistant User Agent in the cloud that acts as a counterbalance to the Web Browser. You can think of it as a personal web server that ties your digital world together into a single experiential whole.
The Web Weaver is also an app! It represents you when you’re offline. It syncs your personal data between all your software, hardware and social connections when you’re both on and offline.. It stores and manages your social graph. In fact, it stores, manages and perpetually extends your graph of graphs.
I may have parts of this equation wrong. Perhaps the Web Weaver doesn’t store all this stuff. Perhaps storage is an extension. In which case, the Web Weaver delegates functionality and acts as the service routing mechanism between applications within a users personal web ecosystem.
Most importantly, the Web Weaver is cross-compatible with every Web Browser and other Web Weavers. This means you can have multiple Web Browsers and multiple Web Weavers running, syncing, and presenting a single coherent identity to the rest of the web.
The Web Weaver isn’t the center of your digital experience, it’s your outer cellular membrane.
Let me be clear, I am not proposing a new software dev project.. there are projects all over the place that are headed in the Web Weaver direction. My goal is to surface where this could all be going so we can get there faster.
Here are some products that are already bound toward Web Weaverdom:
- Mozilla Persona/Firefox Sync
- Google Chrome Sync
- Apple iCloud
- Windows Live Mesh/Skydrive
- Ubuntu One
- Thinkup App
- The Locker Project
- Urban Airship
Many of these seem like wildly different product offerings, but there are commonalities between them that seem to hint at key convergence opportunities between them all in the near future.
I’ve identified the Web Weaver as the missing requisite piece to solving global scale problems within the urgent timeframes we face. It is therefore my intent to make sure that this product class is fully defined, specified (specificationified?) and in some form shipped by the end of this year.