Marc Grabanski

The Future of the Web and Things Like That

March 04, 2010

After watching Jesse Schell’s presentation on the future of gaming, I came to thinking about the future of the web. I’ll summarize from memory in case you don’t have time to watch it:

  • Farm Ville, Guitar Hero, Wii, Wii Fit.. etc all made TONS of money. They seem to hit the gaming industry out of nowhere.
  • They have one thing in common — they bring gaming to the real world.
  • When technology gets better, more types of devices emerge. “all in one” is a fallacy.
  • Companies are using points systems to get consumers to buy certain products.
  • He says point systems gaming should be brought into all areas of reality. So, this video in combined with my presentations on HTML5 has really got me thinking. What is the future of the web?

More Devices and Faster Internet

The two things we can count: more devices and faster internet. I’m sure iPad is just the start of new types of devices and innovation in that space. Google is gearing up to release 1GB internet, 100 times what most people have in their homes now. So how are all these devices connected? The internet. What is the language of the internet? HTML. (xml and json too for data transfer)


Web browsers are interpreters of this hodge-podge data format we have, HTML. Even CSS and JavaScript are interpreted. This is why web developers will never have perfect standards because everything is based on interpretation. Browsers can agree to interpret things in roughly the same ways, but the law of humanity combined with innovation mean nothing will be interpreted 100% the same.

New Interpretations of HTML

Take the video tag, for instance. The entire world’s internet eyes and brain (browsers) have to now interpret a new piece of data, the video tag. A single browser could decide to interpret a “frog” tag, but that wouldn’t serve us much good - so there will always be some commonality behind new tags and innovation. HTML will continue to add new pieces of data that will be interpreted in different ways.

We will always have browser plugins and JavaScript to add new functionality to browsers before the browsers implement their own interpretations. Apple did a smart move by open sourcing webkit. Now as more and more browsers use their rendering engine, apple (and whomever works on webkit) can set the standards, forcing other browsers to start implementing what they are. We’ve seen some of this taken place. HTML is a world where people basically make up new words and the whole world will eventually learn how to interpret that word.

The Brave New Internet

What I’m really looking forward to is 3D and sensor APIs. Sensor APIs will detect if the device has a certain sensor, just like the geolocation API does now in HTML5, and then fall back if it doesn’t have it. This will be great to be able to gather all new types of data through JavaScript. We could record audio and video natively or even detect air pollution levels if hardware devices start to have new types of sensors.

3D is certainly the area I’m most excited for. A world where today’s games like Half Life 2 can download streaming into your web browser in real time. Gigabit internet will provide that ability. O3D and WebGL are starting to pave the way for 3D in the browser. And I fully intend to leverage browser’s new 3D abilities when it comes out.

If you haven’t seen it, check out Google’s O3D beach demo. O3D is a plugin, but we know that plugins are trailblazers to new browser functionality. Safari and Firefox are implementing WebGL and this can be seen in their nightly builds. Pay attention to the Learning WebGL blog to see what has been happening in the world of WebGL. I can’t wait to start using it.

Web + 3D is the world I pictured and wanted to be a part of since back in 2001 when I went to DigiPen, Nintendo’s school, for 3D Animation:

marc at nintendo

So, more ways to input information and 3D are two directions I think the web is going!

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Marc Grabanski

Web Development, Business and Life Thoughts from Marc Grabanski – Founder, CEO & UI Developer of Frontend Masters

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