This isn’t the death of the web, it’s the birth of the native web

Posted on November 25, 2014. Filed under: startups, venture capital, wildcard |

Something interesting happened a few days after we launched Wildcard last week. We released the first ever “native card browser” on November 13th, a serious departure from traditional HTML based web browsers, and 4 days later the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled “The Web is Dying; Apps are Killing it.” This is by no means the first time this concept has been suggested, but the debate flared up in the wake of our launch, with a wave of follow on posts discussing the future of the web and its health as it relates to a mobile first world. I can’t say that Wildcard is responsible for provoking this instantiation of the debate, but I do think our product and message reached the community of folks who are thinking about the future of the web, and the timing/language that flowed through the posts I read suggests to me that Wildcard was present in people’s minds during the conversation.

Two years ago when we started building Wildcard, the debate of native vs web was in a very different place. It was not a forgone conclusion that almost 90% of our internet consumption in 2014 would occur within apps, and a large contingent of “web purists” still held hope that HTML5 would win out over native. At the time we bet on the native ecosystem, but aspired to bring some of the most important properties from the web (like discoverability and sharing/linking) into this new reality. We thought of cards as the native analog to webpages, and didn’t aspire to kill the web, but rather to modernize it into what was clearly a superior user experience on mobile (app/native technology).

I was pleased to see in the most recent wave of this discussion, a general acceptance or recognition that in today’s mobile era, the web as we know it, is pushing down stack to a more infrastructural position that is powering new, native interfaces that are easier to interact with on mobile. I liked the supposition that just because users are interacting with the information from the web in a different interface or format, that does not mean that the web is dead or dying…to me this arc read more like an evolution than than an extinction.

I have largely tried to stay out of this debate, mostly because I am sensitive to my lack of historical context associated with the development and emergence of the desktop web. There are so many smart people who lived through it, who are intimately familiar with it’s definition, properties, and ideals…and my study of the internet really only began in 2005…I feel really confident building what I hope the native web or native internet becomes…but less comfortable pontificating on how that future does or does not jive with the past.

So this is all to say, I was pleased to see thoughtful posts like this and this pushing forward a more flexible and updated definition of “the web” and I hope that Wildcard can play a small part in defining an interaction paradigm that recognizes today’s hardware and context while delivering on some of the things we lost in the migration from the web as we knew it to this more modern, native consumptive pattern.

For ease, i’ve pasted a bunch of the media from this latest conversation:

“The Web is Dying, Apps are Killing It” – WSJ, Chris Mims
http://online.wsj.com/articles/the-web-is-dying-apps-are-killing-it-1416169934

“Follow Up: The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations for the Web” – WSJ, Chris Mims
http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/11/18/the-soft-bigotry-of-low-expectations-for-the-web/

“The web is alive and well” — Quartz, Zach Seward
http://qz.com/297418/the-web-is-alive-and-well/

“Native Apps Are Part of the Web” — Daring Fireball, John Gruber
http://daringfireball.net/2014/11/native_apps_are_part_of_the_web

“The Web, Still Dying After All These Years” — MG Siegler
https://medium.com/five-hundred-words/the-web-still-dying-after-all-these-years-66cc2c9db8c9

“Is the Web Dying, Killed Off by Mobile Apps? It’s Complicated” – GigaOm, Matt Ingram
https://gigaom.com/2014/11/17/is-the-web-dying-killed-off-by-mobile-apps-its-complicated/

“The Web is Dying! Wait, How Are You Reading This?” – Slate, Will Oremus
http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/11/17/sorry_wsj_nyt_the_web_not_dying_apps_not_killing_it.html

“Rumors of the Internet’s death have been greatly exaggerated” – Daily Dot, Ben Branstetter
http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/web-dying-app-takeover/

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Everyday I go for several walks. most are for entertainment. On one of those walks I’ll go shopping. The web still continues to be the shopping walk. Apps are the entertainment walks.


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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I think there is one metric that can be used to measure the value of a human life and that’s impact. How did you change things? How many people did you touch? How different is the world because you lived in it and how positive was the change that you affected? (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it) You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com

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