A clean start for the web - Tom MacWright

MacWright covers a lot of different topics, from browser mono-culture and the difficulty of maintaining a browser / multiple browser clients, to the complexity of development.

He then goes on to talk about the tension between the “Document web”:

There is the “document web”, like blogs, news, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook. This is basically the original vision of the web, as far as I can understand it (I was 2). Basically CSS, which we now think of as a way for designers to add brand identity and tweak pixel-perfect details, was instead mostly a way of making plain documents readable and letting the readers of those documents customize how they looked. This attribute actually survived for a while in Chrome, in the form of user stylesheets, and still works in Firefox. Though it’s going to be a rough ride in the current web which has basically thrown away semantic HTML as an idea.

And the “Application web”:

Then there’s the “application web”. This started as server applications, built with things like Django and Ruby on Rails and before them a variety of technologies that will live forever in corporations, like Java Servlets.

Backbone.js demonstrated that a lot of these applications could be moved into the browser, and then React and its many SPA-style competitors established a new order for the web – highly-interactive, quite complex, client-side applications.

And that maybe trying to do both of these things is where the tension lies.

MacWright points to a couple of projects he sees as working on these concepts:

This end of the article is similar to Nu Shell’s concepts of play and learning:

So the key is to discover the small things that unlock the possibilities in this plan, if they’re there. Or find a different plan with ‘just enough fun.’

Social networks are universally more restrictive than web pages but also more fun in significant ways, chief amongst them being that more people can participate. What if the rest of the web have that simplicity and immediacy, but without the centralization? What if we could start over?

Read the whole thing, as there are lots of other great thoughts on #wasm and Markdown and more.

There was a time when we could install applications, give some sort of explicit agreement that something would run on our computers and use our hardware.

This is Constellation Computing, Edge Computing and more that Fission believes in.

With Fission’s web native file system building block – your files, accessible everywhere – we think we can tackle both the Document Web and the Application Web, as both deal with files at their base.

We don’t (necessarily) need a different browser. The constraint that we’ve set for ourselves right now is that our code and apps should run in every browser, including mobile ones, without plugins.

This means it is up to us to add support for new features available in browsers as they become widely used – and perhaps figuring out how to support or shim features not available everywhere. Our passwordless login uses WebCrypto API, and makes it actually usable, as one example.

The same goes for usage of other protocols. We are constrained by the HTTP gateway in the IPFS protocol and how it operates. We’ve already contributed changes to go-ipfs – ipfs ignore – and are now looking at SPA mode.