The Web is Dead…Again

The Web as we know it is over….time to throw away your browser and calmly evacuate via the nearest lighted exit.  There’s a new game in town and you don’t want to be the last clueless executive betting on the web as an advertising and marketing medium.  So sayeth Wired Magazine….in 1997.

Did you think I was talking about current Wired Editor Chris (“The Long Tail”) Anderson’s pronouncement last week about the demise of the Web?  No, the original “Web is Dead” story happened way back in March 1997 in issue 5.03.  The cover story celebrated “Push” and featured the sub-headline “Kiss Your Browser Goodbye: the Radical Future of Media Beyond the Web.”  This radical future would be ushered in by — “broader and deeper new interfaces for electronic media: BackWeb and PointCast.” Or maybe not so much.

Big sweeping pronouncements make for great magazine covers (and in Chris Anderson’s case a veritable cottage industry of book deals and sweet public appearance fees), but they’re just terrible planning tools. In the latest Wired obituary, applications are the hot young widow in the black dress dabbing her eyes beside web’s coffin. Anderson and Wired seem entirely smitten with a future dominated by the iPad and other highly-controlled (and largely paid) channels and devices that live outside the formal boundaries of the web.  But while this heavy breathing may be good for Wired and the content publishing business model, to the rest of us it’s a somewhat distracting tulip craze.

For me, the true future of digital media and marketing is far less sensational, but far more promising.  The future is all about “and.”  We’ll be navigating and building on a world that’s filled with web pages and apps and social media communities and video and…..  Wired (for whom I worked in 1994-95) is tossing us a red herring in saying that all the meaningful financial action will shift into applications and closed environments.  It’s a false choice.

When I look at the future role of the ad agency and the media sales organization, I see a focus on integration of widely disparate and channels.  It’s going to be messy and impressionistic.  It’s not going to fit into a pretty little box.  Even if that box has an Apple logo on it.

Think I’ve got it wrong?  Have a POV of your own.  Add your comments below.