The important question is whether growth is fast enough to bring down sky-high unemployment. We need about 2.5 percent growth just to keep unemployment from rising, and much faster growth to bring it significantly down. Yet growth is currently running somewhere between 1 and 2 percent, with a good chance that it will slow even further in the months ahead. Will the economy actually enter a double dip, with G.D.P. shrinking? Who cares? If unemployment rises for the rest of this year, which seems likely, it won’t matter whether the G.D.P. numbers are slightly positive or slightly negative. All of this is obvious. Yet policy makers are in denial.
• New York Times: This Is Not a Recovery
In the latest issue of its magazine, Wired (US version) pronounces that the Web is dead. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that there has been reaction to this on the Web itself from many people who did not realise that the world-changing platform on which they communicate in so many ways has expired after approx 7300 days.
I do not believe the Web is dead. The interface that people use to access the Web may change, and the browser application will fade away until it is invisible, but as long as people want to express themselves in words and pictures (at least) to a world-wide audience in a format that is easily shared (the magic of links) then the Web will play a role. Chris Anderson says “The Web is not the culmination of the digital revolution” – I hope not. I’d be disappointed if this was as good as it gets.
The thing is that the content typically found on the Web requires less internet traffic to transfer and display, especially in relation to the heavy lifting required for newer services. This is only going to become more pronounced once everyone has an Internet-enabled TV, global warming means that you will video conference rather than fly to a meeting and sensors on just about everything (the “Internet of Things”) are regulating anything from the temperature of your house or office to the traffic congestion you come up against in your car. That does not devalue the continued importance of the written word – it’s just that you can do a lot of text on a screen with very little bandwidth. Same thing for SMS – that’s why 740 billion text messages are sent annually (in the US alone.) Of course the Web will go down as a proportion of overall internet traffic when, say, in 10 years’ time three billion people are all watching the World Cup final in real time in 4k HD in 3D or some virtual world, with all the data pushed to your mobile device on a 5G wireless network.
As for native apps on your mobile device platform of choice (Android, Apple’s iOS etc) undermining the Web… I wouldn’t put it that way. They have a right to exist. The apps serve a purpose – they allow you to access a service or specific information of your choosing (eg news from a particular source) quickly and in a nice user interface – but you install these out of choice. For the things that you don’t know, then there’s always the sum total of the world’s knowledge available on the Web.
Also, the Web will live on in some form or another – it may evolve over time into something new, but the ancestry will always be there, leading back to the web we know today. It is very rare that a technology dies:
With very few exceptions, technologies don’t die. In this way they differ from biological species, which in the long-term inevitably do go extinct. Technologies are idea-based, and culture is their memory. They can be resurrected if forgotten, and can be recorded (by increasingly better means) so that they won’t be overlooked. Technologies are forever.
A good article on using technology to reduce traffic congestion:
On a recent trip to Valencia, I came across a couple of small exhibitions that are worth checking out if you get the chance. Both are at MUVIM (Museo Valenciano de la Ilustracion y la Modernidad / The Valencia Museum of the Enlightment and Modernity), an airy gallery that features a number of exhibitions. The first is “Gardens of Sand” (Jardines de Arena), a series of high quality scanned images of photos of the Middle East between 1859 and 1905 – a different world in a different time. Some stunning, intricate shots, full of character.
The second exhibition – “Handcrafted sounds” (Sonidos Artesanos) – is in two small rooms, the first mainly featuring some beautifully crafted guitars and lutes (it would have been amazing to hear them being played), and the second with a pianola and a series of drums. It won’t take a long time to go round, and the dark, cool rooms – that contrast vividly with the blisteringly hot, blindingly bright city outside – have a real sense of calm that nicely complements the instruments.
It’s over. I’ve reached the end; the Bernard Samson 10 book saga that has been part of my life – on and off – for seven years has come to a close. The questions have been answered. I’ll say that it was a satisfying end, but wouldn’t want to go into any further detail. It’s been a great ride… what a great achievement for an author.