Matto and I just got back from the Web Design 2010 Panel at SXSW, and we’ll each be writing our opinions about it.
Take a look around you right now, and tell me what has changed significantly from 1998 to now. We have computers that look pretty much the same as they used to, cellphones aren’t changing radically, bad web browsers are still prevalent and relevant, and people who are on the far right side of the technological adoption curve still make up a miniscule segment of the world’s population. This panel was all about how different the web will be between now and 2010, and to be honest, I don’t think it’ll change fundamentally one bit.
Doug Bowman was definitely thinking the most realistically about the future and technology when he discussed how technology won’t matter, rather the concepts surrounding its usage are the most important. End users who aren’t technologically savvy don’t care one iota if a web app was written in PHP, ASP, or .Net as long as it just plain works. The slow move to a very content-centric web is already happening, and I believe in 2010 it’ll just be more important. Technologies like XML, RSS, and CSS aren’t going anywhere and in 2010 they’ll still just be taking off with the vast majority of the population. Fringe technologies like XForms, SVG, CSS3, and XHTML2 will still be just that, fringe technologies that nobody really uses for realistic projects. Five years isn’t that far away, but some people on the panel are already waiting for these flying cars to appear.
Jon Hicks and Dave Shea appeared to be well-versed in these technologies and the restraints surrounding them, so they were able to elaborate more about their usage and what might come of them. Eris Free seemed to talk for only about 45 seconds, but in reality it was probably closer to 4 minutes. Her very first comment on the panel started off with a long pause and ended with a “I’m sorry, I haven’t had my coffee yet” and then Doug Bowman grabbed the mic and spoke cogently about the topic she couldn’t discuss. Eris was very unprepared, and was completely out of her league. I can understand giving her a chance to speak for the first time, but sticking a mouse in a lion pit just doesn’t work.
I don’t know why this panel was as bad as it was. It could have
been the format, it could have been the chemistry (or lack of) between
the panelists while on stage. It could have been the moderator. I
don’t know, but it was a waste of time. And maybe that’s why it
wasn’t very good because I felt it was a waste of the panelists time
as well. A better question to discuss, instead of where will the Web
be in 5 years is, how are people’s needs going to change in the next 5
years and how are we going to help them accomplish their goals.
Another miss on the part of the panelists, was answering no to the question, “will we
care about IE6 in 5 years.” However, we will probably still support it like we still support Netscape 4.x (to the extent that we remember to). This is a very First World-centric view. Developing countries often get hand-me-down computers from developed countries. Given that, I’d say that web developers/designers in general will still have to worry about IE6 in 5 years.
The thing is, not much has changed in the last 5 years. Some of
the technologies we use to deliver data from UI to database and back
again have changed, and I think that is likely the area where most of
the change will happen in regard to web development. We’ll still be
doing much the same we do now to create access to data for people to get their work done.