Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, recently made an appearance on the BBC to talk about the future of the Web and how HTML5 is going to impact that technology he essentially began. His projections for HTML5's impact are astonishing in their own right, as HTML5, according to his remark in the interview, will make "every single Web page out there...like a computer.” Yet Berners-Lee also had some stern warnings about the future of the Internet as we know it.
Basically, Berners-Lee projects a future in which, thanks to HTML5, individual web sites can develop such capability that they are essentially little computers in their own right. Where previously the Web was more of a static, read-only experience--still a substantial innovation in its own right--HTML5 will allow for significant gains in overall functionality, and make the Web capable of so much more than it is even today.
HTML5 will offer up a variety of new features to users, like new benefits to offline storage, as well as canvas drawing capabilities without the need for Flash or other plug-ins. Better yet, it will even provide streaming support for both audio and video native to a browser app, improving the range of streaming audio and streaming video. The sheer intelligence of forms will be upgraded too--which can be welcome indeed for people who use a lot of forms online--as well as geolocation tools to better tailor things to your immediate area, especially welcome for mobile device users. Perhaps the biggest destabilizing element represented by HTML5 is its focus on Web applications, which has significant power to destabilize the concept of the individually-branded app store by making at least some apps available on any mobile device that can access the Web.
But while Berners-Lee had high praise for the future of online development, he also had some dire warnings to dispense as well. He's been speaking out for some time now about the government regulation of the Internet, especially in regard to its potential to shut down innovation under the weight of red tape and choking laws. Laws regarding the storage of data, like those being recommended by an Australian proposal, have great potential for harm to the average user, and considering the sheer amount of money there is associated with the Internet as a whole, there are plenty of corporate and governmental interests interested in controlling that flow of information in their favor.
Thus, Berners-Lee not only presented a bright and shining future of the Web as a new power in information and services, but also made warning about potential threats to this still comparatively new technology. There certainly are perils associated with use of the Web, from viruses and online scams clear up to the machinations of corporations and governments, but this technology is rapidly changing, and providing value for users the world over. Where will the Internet go from here? In a few years, we may not even recognize it. But the possibilities are certainly impressive, assuming the perils can be appropriately managed.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey