Is the Web dead?

In a recent Wired magazine article, Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff argued that the Web is dead, but the Internet is alive and well. To support their argument, they pointed to the growing popularity of self-contained “apps” as opposed to the more free-form web browser. Although these apps still access the internet, they do so in a more focused way. And, these authors argue that the rise of the apps is having a dramatic impact on our overall internet usage, supporting their point with the following graph.

Based on this graph, one would definitely get the impression that web traffic has decreased significantly over the last few years. However, Rob Beschizza points out (“Is the Web Really Dead?“) that since the graph focuses on the relative proportions of various kinds of traffic, it really doesn’t say anything about whether web browsing is on the decline. It only indicates that its “market share” is declining. If you like at actually usage, you get a very different graph.

To me, this was an excellent example of looking closely at the data to see what it’s really telling you. Graphs, pictures, statistics, and other kinds of data are great, but only when they’re interpreted carefully. I also thought the first graph was very interesting once I realized what it was saying. I knew internet video was growing rapidly, but I hadn’t realized what a large slice of the pie it had become.


About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on August 18, 2010, in Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Well, I feel dumb. I didn’t know “the web” was distinct from “the internet”.

  2. good post, personally I think anyone who wants to be a politician, journalist, vote or read a newspaper should take a course in statistical interpretation. what was it Disraeli said again?

  3. “…or read a newspaper” – I love it.

    I think you’re referring to “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics” (or something to that effect). And, although I love this quote for its rhetorical value, I think your comment rightly points to the fact that the fault usually lies with the one “creatively” presenting or badly misinterpreting the statistics.

  4. Also, the ecosystem inhabited by print magazines actually does seem under threat. That’s the big irony of that essay.

    Wired to Web: you’re dead.

    Web to Wired: wait, you’re still alive?

  1. Pingback: Save the Internet « P e r ∙ C r u c e m ∙ a d ∙ L u c e m

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